Skip to main content

Full text of "Chinese art & Culture"

See other formats


— 99 



1 09 045 


Copyright (g) 1959 by the Orion Press, Inc., New York 
All Rights Reserved 

First Evergreen Edition 1961 

Chinese Art and Culture is translated from 

La Chine et son Art (Editions d'Histoire et d'Art, Paris, 1951) 

Manufactured in the United States of America 



Chinese Isolation and Originality XI 

Agrarian Foundations of Chinese Civilization xiv 

Variety and Unity of China xvn 

Chinese Continuity and Renewal xx 


The Neolithic Age 3 

The Civilization of the Shang-Yin 9 

A Regression: The Period of the Western Chou 30 

The Civilization of the 'Warring States' : Art 36 

The Civilization of the 'Warring States' : Ways of Thought 52 

The Kingdom of Ch'in Forms the Empire of China 65 


Han Rule in China and in Upper Asia: The Western Han 69 

Han Rule in China and in Central Asia: The Eastern Han 77 

Art in the Han Period 80 


The Fall of the Han and the Reversal of Values 107 

The Great Crumbling. Period of the Six Dynasties 1 16 

Invasion of China by Indian Culture. Propagation of Buddhism 134 

Sinization of Buddhism 145 

Wei Sculpture 149 
After Two Hundred and Seventy Years of Tartar Invasions and of 

Dismemberment, China Is Again Unified 169 


Accession of the T'ang 17 7 

The First Tang Emperors and the Influence of Buddhism 180 

At the Court of the Tang. The Great Period 194 



Fall of the Tang. The Five Dynasties 233 

The Period of the Sung and the Confucianist Reaction 233 

Painting under the Sung 247 

The Pottery of the Sung 277 


The Yuan 283 

The Ming 289 

The Ch'ing 303 

Modern Times 307 

Chronology of Chinese Dynasties 315 

Index 319 



1. Jar, earthenware, from Pan-shan (Kansu), Second millennium B.C. 
Musee Cernuschi, Paris. Xiv 

2. Left: Ko, jade blade mounted in bronze inlaid with turquoise, probably 
from An-yang. Late Shang Dynasty. Right: Nephrite blade mounted in 
bronze inlaid with turquoise, probably from An-yang. Late Shang Dynasty. 
Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. xxii 

3. Vase, white pottery, from An-yang. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 4 

4. Ceremonial vessel, type ku, bronze. Shang Dynasty, fourteenth to twelfth 
century B.C. Musee Guimet, Paris. 4 

5. Ritual vessel, type ting, bronze. Shang Dynasty. Musee Guimet, Paris. 12 

6. Mirror, bronze inlaid with gold and silver. Chou Dynasty. 12 

7. Ceremonial vessel with cover, type kuang, bronze. Late Shang Dynasty. 
Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 16 

8. Ceremonial vessel, type kuei, bronze. Late Shang Dynasty, twelfth century 

B.C. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 24 

9. Pole top, bronze. Shang Dynasty, fourteenth to twelfth century B.C. 
David- Weill Collection, Paris. 24 

10. Ceremonial vessel, type huo, bronze. Early Chou Dynasty or earlier. Freer 
Gallery of Art, Washington. 32 

11. Wine can, type hu, bronze. Yin or early Chou Dynasty. Minneapolis 
Institute of Arts, Alfred F. Pillsbury Collection. 32 

12. Ceremonial vessel, type li-ting, bronze. Early Chou Dynasty. Museum of 
Fine Arts, Boston. 40 

13. Ceremonial vessel, type hu, bronze. Middle Chou Dynasty, ninth to 
seventh century B.C. Musee Guimet, Paris. 40 

14. Jade disc, type pi. Warring States. Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 48 

15. Procession of Dignitaries, wall painting. Han Dynasty. Tomb at Liao- 
yang, Manchuria. 52 

16. Vase, proto-porcelain. Han Dynasty. Musee Guimet, Paris. 52 

17. Above: Mirror, bronze. Warring States. Ramet Collection, Paris. Below: 
Dragon head, terminal ornament of a chariot pole, bronze. State of Han, 
Late Chou Dynasty, fifth to third century B.C. Freer Gallery of Art, 
Washington. 56 


68. Vase, famille verte. Ch'ing Dynasty, 1622-1772. Mus£e Guimet, Paris. 252 

69. Hsia Ch'ang (1388-1470): The Serene Bank of the Hsiang River 
(details). Ink on paper. Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 256 

70. Ch'iu Ying (active c: 1522-1560): Saying Farewell at Hsiin-yang 
(detail) . Color on paper. Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 264 

71. Above: W&i Cheng-ming (1470-1559): Cypress and Weathered Rocks. 
Ink on paper. Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. Below: Ch'en Tao-fu 
(1483-1544): Lotus (detail). Color on paper. Nelson Gallery of Art, 
Kansas City. 264 

72. Wang Hui (1632-1717): Bamboo Grove and Distant Mountains. Ink 

on paper. Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Collection. 272 

73. Tao-chi (1630-1707): Landscape. Color on paper. Museum of Fine 
Arts, Boston. 272 

74. Chu Ta (1626-c. 1705): Landscape after Kuo Chung-shu. Ink on paper. 
Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Collection. 280 

75. Kuan-yin, white porcelain. Reign of K'ang-hsi (1662-1722). Victoria 

and Albert Museum, London. 280 

76. Panoramic view of the Great Wall. 288 

77. Plate, famille rose. Ch'ang Dynasty, 1736-1796. Musee Guimet, Paris. 292 

78. Vase, famille noire. Ch'ang Dynasty, 1662-1722. Musee Guimet, Paris. 292 

79. The Temple of Heaven, Peking. 1420 a.d. 296 

80. Ju Peon: Horses. Ink on paper. Twentieth century. Mus6e Cernuschi, 
Paris. 304 

81. Fu Pao-shih: Landscape. Ink and color on paper. Twentieth century. 
Musee Cernuschi, Paris. 304 

82. Wu Tso-jen: Yaks. Ink on paper. Twentieth century. 312 


Chinese Isolation and Originality 

Like India — even more than India — China is an entire con- 
tinent. True, it is directly attached and adheres by its whole 
hinterland to the enormous mass of the world of the steppes 
and of Central Asia. As recent events sufficiently prove, it forms 
a part of Eurasia. But geographically it turns its back upon 
Central Asia and upon the world of the steppe, like its rivers 
which flow the other way and follow the slope of its plains, 
and like its shores which face an ocean that for thousands of 
years remained without an opposite shore. Until the surprisingly 
belated discovery of America, China was really one of the extrem- 
ities of the world. Hut Eurasia itself — the total continent 
composed of Asia with its terminal peninsula, Europe — did not 
reveal itself as such before the beginning of the first century B.C., 
when the Chinese emperor Han Wu-ti, by his conquests extend- 
ing to Pamir, established contact between the classic East and 
the Far Fast. I !p to that time China had always lived in a self- 
contained world. Indeed, from the 'cultural' point of view, this 
self-containment was really broken in upon only in the first 
century a.d., with the introduction of Buddhism, and in a poli- 
tical sense three centuries later, with the first great Tartar in- 
vasions. If we situate the origins of China's proto-history at 


about the beginning of the second millennium B.C., we thus have 
some twenty-three centuries of isolated and continuous civiliza- 
tion before the irruption of the outside world. Passively com- 
mitted though it was to the Eurasian base, the 'continent of 
China during this immense span of time none the less enjoyed 
all the advantages of insularity. For, as geographers know, high 
frozen plateaux and desert solitudes form far more effective 
barriers than the sea between civilizations that have sprung up 
at the opposite points of their periphery. 

For the elaboration of a civilization that was in all respects 
original, China was thus assured an exceptional situation from 
the start. We have only to consider that such a privilege was 
accorded neither to Greece, immemorially in symbiosis with the 
old cultures of Near Asia, nor to India itself, which, from the 
pre-Aryan civilization of the Indus valley (Mohenjo-daro) to the 
Graeco-Buddhist, also remained more or less constantly in con- 
tact with Near Asia. To find an isolation comparable to that of 
China, extending over thousands of years, we should have to 
turn to pre-Columbian America. But the Amerindians, despite 
an undeniable creative power, never produced human values as 
universal as the Chinese world. 

An isolation so prolonged, making possible so long an in- 
cubation sealed off from ail contacts, inevitably endowed Chinese 
culture with a powerful originality. But this originality, as in 
the case of the pre-Columbian and Negro civilizations, might 
have developed only conceptions that were practically closed, 
untranslatable into foreign thinking. It so happened that the 
Chinese mind, like the Greek mind, like the Latin mind, pos- 
sessed such a predisposition to general ideas that, like Greece 
and Rome, it 'thought universally*. Like the Graeco-Roman 
genius, the Chinese genius, on its side of the planet, has created 
a wisdom, an art, a humanism that are complete. 

To eastern Indochina, to Korea and to a part at least of 
Central Asia, China through its scholars and its 'legionaries' 
has thus been both Greece and Rome. Even in a country where 


its arms never penetrated, and where it therefore could not 
assume the role of Rome (I am thinking of Japan), China has 
performed a work of 'Hellenization' that has endured. By virtue 
of this, and from the point of view of its natural satellites, 
it merits its title of Middle Kingdom, just as Greece, with its 
holiest of sanctuaries, was entitled to regard itself as the omphalos 
of the Mediterranean world. 

The characteristic feature of Chinese civilization is 9 then, that 
it is one of the great original civilizations of humanity, a civ- 
ilization having made its law prevail far and wide, civilizing 
and humanizing a large part of Asia. But if China's historic 
mission had been limited to this task — in truth, a capital one — it 
would nevertheless have remained for a long time in total iso- 
lation, reduced to playing a kind of 'pre-Columbian' role. What 
is striking about Chinese history is that after having had the 
time, in the course of some twenty centuries, to develop this 
wholly original culture within its tight confines, China should 
have been able to establish contacts — maintained almost cont- 
inuously ever since — with some of the highest civilizations of the 
outside world. 

These contacts began to develop in the first century of our 
era with the introduction of Buddhism, which brought with it 
the best of Indian thought, of Indian art, and through Indian 
art a rather close reflection of Greek art as of the arts of Iran. 
Later and over the same caravan trails were to come Nestorian 
Christianity and Manicheism, not to mention Islam. We shall 
see the considerable influence of such contributions — of Bud- 
dhism, of course, first and foremost. Yet the only route that the 
men who introduced these diverse influences had at their disposal 
was the double caravan trail through present-day Chinese Tur- 
kestan or Sinkiang — the Silk Road — a route stretched out across 
such an immensity of desert reaches, of mountain ranges and 
high plateaux as to prevent any wholesale invasion of foreign 
ideas. Through the centuries and the solitudes, external influences 
could thus reach the Chinese continent only in minute doses. 


There was always time for them to be assimilated and, whatever 
their qualitative importance, they stimulated Chinese originality 
without ever imperilling it. 

To these historic influences by way of the caravan trails 
should perhaps be added, for a much more remote past, immem- 
orial contacts with the neolithic cultures of Eastern Europe. In 
the first half of the second millennium B.C. we shall in fact see 
a polychrome pottery with spiral ornamentation spreading in 
Northern China, which would seem to have originated in Ru- 
mania and the Ukraine. It must be borne in mind, however, 
that in the Far East the finest of these potteries have been found 
in a peripheral province (Kansu), which was then outside of 
China; that their designs have hardly left a trace on the sub- 
sequent evolution of Chinese ornamentation and that the remote 
art influences in question thus cannot have had an effect on the 
development of the Chinese genius. 

Agrarian Foundations of Chinese Civilization 

Chinese originality, as we have seen, remains entire. Does 
this mean that what we may call the 'miracle of China', as we 
speak of the 'miracle of Greece', is really inexplicable? By no 
means. Chinese humanism, like Mediterranean humanism, is im- 
mediately explained by human geography. The two have, it is 
true, different foundations. Like the pre-Hellenic civilizations 
before it, like Phoenician civilization alongside of it, like the 
Indonesian or Japanese civilizations in Eastern Asia, Greek ci- 
vilization grew up under the preponderant influence of the sea. 
The most archaic Chinese civilization, on the other hand, like 
the Babylonian or the Egyptian under the Pharaohs, was pre- 
eminently a land civilization, based on the tilling of the soil. 
All three possessed an alluvial soil, annually made fertile by the 
river flood, by a 'gift of the River', as Herodotus says of Egypt 
and as we could equally well say of the Great Plain of China. 
But in all three cases, too, the 'Count of the River' {Ho-po) 


^W#M "» ^^ • ^1%...^ ■ * 


.-;"' ' - 

■■■ ■> ' -■•> ' s ■ , '^ 

■ ■■ : *\ •. 

" >■■ 

■ ."«' \\ 

■ *v ■ i ■ ■ v- IT" 

S ""v 

.-■' ' '^ 

■■'■■' ; .' v .V 

■%* v . ^ 

V /*. ■ '■"'■■■' 
■ - : 1;f ■ ■ 


■'''■'. :;i^'^ 

1. Jar, earthenware, from Pan-shan {Kansu). Second millenium B.C. 
Musie Cernuschi, Paris. 


was looked upon, as the Chinese admit with mingled gratitude 
and terror in connection with the Yellow River, as a formidable 
benefactor who must be attentively observed, used, appeased, 
curbed. The extraordinary fertility of the soil that it has created 
with its silt and that it continues to enrich, can be maintained 
only so long as the annual inundation is curbed and domesticat- 
ed by a whole system of canals, and only so long as the flood 
is controlled by a system of carefully maintained dikes. 

The essential function of the chief — whether he be Egyptian 
pharaoh, Sumerian potest or archaic Chinese wang — thus consists 
in maintaining this system of canals and dikes. 1 The king of 
alluvial lands, who is both hydraulic engineer and agronomist, 
must forecast, watch for and determine, with the same solicitude 
as the moment of the life-giving inundation, the time of sowing, 
the time of harvest, the time of garnering; in each case he has 
to make the agrarian cycle coincide with the seasonal cycle or, 
as the ancient Chinese expressed it, f the Earth with Heaven*. 
By virtue of these various functions, his 'chieftainship' is essen- 
tially 'calendricaT, his powers, his 'heavenly mandate' {fien 
ming), being derived from the observation of the stars. The 
pantheons of Mesopotamia, of Egypt, and of China are in large 
part to be explained by this double origin — agrarian and astro- 
nomic — even as the stable, utilitarian and relatively peace-loving 
character of the royal institution in the three countries has its 
source in an agricultural priesthood so conceived. It matters but 
little that there can obviously have been no contact in the archaic 
period between the 'Fertile Crescent' of Near Asia and the stretch- 
es of loess* and alluvial soil of North China. Human geo- 

1 Of Yii the Great, the legendary founder of the first Chinese dynasty of 
the Hsia, the Shih Chi tells us, 'Yii spent his strength in digging canals and in 
building dikes. He guided the rivers*. (Shih Chi 9 2). 

* Loess, better known to us by the name 'yellow earth* (huang /'«), is a fine 
grained rock or soil covering most of China like a blanket, filling up depressions 
and lying deepest in the valley bottoms. Its depth varies from 300 feet, in parts 
of Kansu, to 50 feet or less. (See William Willetts, Chinese Art, London, 1958, 
p. 33). (Translator's note). 


graphy, when it is rooted in analogous physical conditions, im- 
presses upon human groupings, in other respects so different, a 
pattern that is at times rather similar. 2 

The archaic Chinese dynasty that was to enjoy the longest 
reign, the Chou (1027-256 B.C.) had as its ancestor 'Prince 
Millet' or Master of the Harvests {Hou-chi). And along with 
the 'Lord on High* (Shang-ti) who is Tien, Heaven person- 
ified, ancient China was to worship the 'Earth-Sovereign' 
(Hou-tu) who is essentially the 'god of the soil' (she) — of the 
cultivated soil, in this case. 

We must, however, beware of definitions that are too schem- 
atic. Beyond any doubt the essentially agrarian bent of the 
primitive Chinese people was to predispose them, in the realm 
of the mind, to a wholly social conception of wisdom, to a 
utilitarian and perhaps somewhat limited philosophy, to a posi- 
tivist turn of mind that was to manifest itself in a certain kind 
of Confucianism. The same could probably be said of Babylonian 
thought and of one whole aspect of Semitic wisdom, both in 
Mesopotamia and in Phoenicia. Yet it is Mesopotamian society, 
which produced the 'Gilgamesh Epic' and the poem of the 'Right- 
eous Sufferer' as early as the period of Sumer and Accad, 
that reveal's to us the whole anguish of metaphysical speculation. 
So it is in China. Despite a peasant religion whose 'matter-of- 
f actness' can be compared only to the primitive Roman religion, 
despite the virtual agnosticism, as it has been called, of the 
wisdom of Confucianism, China is the country to which we owe 

' See P. Gourou, La Terre et I'homme en Extreme-Orient, 2d ed. Paris 
(Colin), 1947. And also M. Gourou's lecture, Considerations geographiques sur 
la Chine, delivered March 18, 1948, at the Centre d'Etudes de Politique Etrangere, 
rue ,de Varenne, Paris. We may add that the Yellow River basin may, in the 
archaic period, have had a warmer and more humid climate than in our day. 
Cf. the study by our Chinese colleague, Hu Hou Hsiian, Climatic changes. Study 
of the Climatic conditions of the Yin dynasty. Bulletin of Chinese Studies. IV, i, 
Chengtu, 1944. Review by A. Rygaloff, in Hanhiue, Bulletin du Centre d'Etudes 
Sinologiques de Pikin, II, 4, 1949, p. 431. 


the spirituality of philosophical Taoism, the metaphysical exalta- 
tion of a Chuang-tzu. 

Although Confucianism and Taoism are both related to con- 
ceptions that are undoubtedly rather similar in origin (the im- 
memorial prescriptions of sorcerers and soothsayers), it is impos- 
sible to imagine a more total divergence. We must resign our- 
selves to such contradictions with which history, despite theor- 
eticians, abounds. Confucianist society, reaching its perfect expres- 
sion in the classical mandarinate, has given us the most typical 
example both of intellectual positivism and of social tradition- 
alism. And the Taoist Fathers of antiquity, the Tang poets and 
the Sung painters of the middle ages have enriched us with the 
most disinterested messages of spiritual release and of cosmic 

Variety and Unity of China 

Such outstanding diversities, by revealing to us China s initial 
richness, afford an anticipation of that capacity for recovery and 
renewal that was to be manifested through the centuries and, 
one might almost say, the millennia. We may add, turning to the 
Chinese continent itself, the variants that provincial differences 
could not fail to contribute to Chinese culture. By far the most 
important of these was the broad contrast between Northern 
China and Southern China, the former still in symbiosis with the 
Great North of the Tartars and the world of the steppes, the 
second already in harmony with the world of subtropical Indo- 

It may in fact be said that a good part of Chinese history can 
be understood only in the light of this contrast: the China of 
the loess plateaux or the alluvial Great Plain as against the China 
of the Sinian folds; the kingdom of 'Prince Millet* as against 
the kingdom of rice. But more than this: even within this gen- 
eral division, secondary subdivisions appear that would have 
sufficed, in Europe, to give rise to as many separate nations. 


Each Chinese province was a virtual beginning (as it later became 
a virtual risk) of an autonomous State — autonomous because 
sufficiently individualized in physical geography and in human 
geography; a regional particularism that, in each period of 'great 
crumbling', caused most of the great provinces to recover their 
temporary independence. 

Shensi and Shansi, each on its terraces of loess overhanging 
the Great Plain, were capable (as history has proved on many 
an occasion) of barricading themselves in and defending them- 
selves alone against attack. The same was true of Shantung, 
with its back against a terminal spur (a 'Brittany in reverse') 
and its holy mountain of T'aishan. The Peking region, transi- 
tional between the Mongolian steppe and the Great Plain, re- 
tained the character of a border region surveying the world of 
nomadic hordes to the north, and to the south commanding the 
immense sweep of ploughed land extending to the Yang-tze. 
Honan, that 'central flower', the Chinese Touraine, the seat of 
so many successive capitals, for a long time kept its primacy 
as an Empire State. 

In contrast to this broken-up Northern expanse, where the 
Yellow River often constitutes an obstacle rather than a link 
between provinces, the course of the long-navigable Yangtze 
Kiang forms a link between adjoining regions, even though the 
valleys of its southern tributaries, distinctly separated by the 
watersheds, here too favour provincial particularisms. And we 
must not forget Szechwan, an immense province, peripheral and 
at the same time rich, committed by its remoteness to a quasi- 
independence. Finally, a China dedicated to purely maritime 
pursuits and nursing colonial ambitions was to emerge on the 
coasts of Fukien and in the region of Canton, which were to 
serve as stepping stones to the 'Overseas China' of Indonesia and 
the Pacific. 


* * * 

Diversity such as this could not fail to influence the mental 
and artistic evolution of the Chinese people. Geographic opposi- 
tions and regional contrasts, moreover, are further emphasized by 
the fact that the history of China is characterized by a rhythmic 
alternation between periods of provincial crumbling and periods 
of consolidation *. 

One of the factors that have periodically made possible the 
joining together of the Chinese lands is surely the unity of the 
writing — of the 'characters', which there as elsewhere began by 
being purely pictographic, then became ideographic. The script 
was finally standardized during the reign of the first emperor, 
Ch'in Shih Huang-ti, at the end of the third century B.C.. In the 
absence of dialectal unity, the 'characters' constituted the common 
medium of communication, which could subsequently be inter- 
preted as one wished, in pronunciations as varied as present-day 
Pekingese and present-day Cantonese. It is not inconceivable that 
the political unity of the West, in Europe, could have been 
indefinitely maintained, if the Italian, Spanish, French, German 
and English languages had used an identical ideographic script. 
But this obvious initial advantage was subsequently accompanied 
by grave disadvantages for China. The Chinese ideograms, similar 
in principle to the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt, as well as to 
the primitive Mesopotamian cuneiforms, never underwent the 
Phoenician simplification of the alphabet. Those marvellous ideo- 
grams, rich with a vast potential of intellectual developments, 
containing a mysterious fund of supplementary interpretations 
and 'explosive' with a whole dynamics of thought, are perhaps 
a more powerful stimulus to the mind than our poor alphabetic 
signs. But the practical superiority of these signs, based on the 

* History will perhaps include among the periods of crumbling the years 
1912-1949, despite the diplomatically maintained fiction of the unified states... 


principle that the rest of the world owes to the Phoenicians, is 
none the less obvious. Chinese culture, having in this respect 
remained at the 'hieroglyphic* or 'cuneiform' stage, has thus been 
deprived of precious advantages. This, and this alone, accounts 
for the apparent immobility of Chinese literature. For while 
pronunciation and language evolved, as in other countries, the 
characters on the other hand remained practically immutable, 
finally absorbing new interpretations as well as different phon- 
emes. If we can imagine the Moslems of Irak having kept to the 
present day the cuneiform characters of their Babylonian ances- 
tors, and having had to adapt them through the centuries to the 
evolution of ideas and techniques, we shall have some under- 
standing of the complexity of the phenomenon of China. 

If the maintenance of the 'characters' has entailed disadvan- 
tages that have not beset the rest of civilization, which progres- 
sively adopted alphabetic writing, we must nevertheless recognize 
the 'obverse* of the question. Independently of their aesthetic 
value, which is such that for 'the arts of the brush 1 calligraphy 
achieved the level of painting (so that painting is often but a 
transposition of calligraphy), the ancient Chinese ideograms 
remain, as we said, extraordinarily full of ideas, rich with an 
immemorial dynamism, vehicles of seminal ideas which have 
become progressively accentuated through the ages. There is in 
them such a store of riches that the Chinese and Japanese, rather 
than abandon this timeless treasure, are willing to subject them- 
selves to a mnemotechnical effort and to a labour of adaptation 
well-nigh incredible in our day. 

Chinese Continuity and Renewal 

The example of the fixed nature of the Chinese characters as 
well as of the variations in the Chinese language (and we here 
refer the reader to Bernard Karlgren's learned phonetic recon- 


structions) 4 suggests to us the complexity of a more general 
problem: how has the Chinese 'constant' adapted itself to an 
evolutionary curve, at times even to abrupt mutations, of which 
the history of art furnishes some startling examples? In this realm, 
indeed, we find asserting itself a Chinese aesthetics that remains 
one of the three or four great original and permanent aesthetics 
of universal humanism. But from period to period, within this 
same tradition, we witness such a renovation in technique, sensi- 
bility and philosophy of art that Chinese art has appeared again 
and again to become 'its own contrary'. What relation is there 
between the architecture of the Shang bronzes, so solidly and 
ruggedly constructed, and the evanescence of the Sung land- 
scapes? Between the severe monochrome of these same Sung 
washes and the playful polychrome of Ming or Manchu orna- 
mentation? Contrasts, these, as striking as those that separate 
the statuary of the Parthenon from Byzantine iconography. 

The fact is that despite the apparent 'cultural' continuity be- 
tween the Parthenon and Saint Sophia, society from Pericles to 
Justinian had entirely changed. Art here merely translated on the 
surface what was a transformation in depth. Likewise, in the 
Far East, the transformations of Chinese art give us, almost at 
first glance, a hint as to the modifications in the structure of 
Chinese society. And as its curve of evolution extends over nearly 
thirty-five centuries, we are in the presence of a human experience 
of fascinating interest. 

The present volume (which does not, however, claim to be a 
history of China) aims to follow this evolutionary curve — that 
of Chinese society and civilization — by means of the open-sesame 
of the history of art. The history of art, in turn, will be considered 
here first and foremost in terms of 'cultural' evolution. We hope 
in this way to give a correct view of the entity that is China, of 

4 Karlgren, Etudes sur la phonologie chinoise, Upsala and Leiden, 1915-1926. 
— Idem, Analytic Dictionary of Chinese and Sino- Japanese, London, 1923. — 
Idem., Philology and Ancient China, Oslo, 1926. 


its eternal values, of its powers of renewal. A view that concerns 
the future of all humanity, if we remember that we are consid- 
ering an ant-hill of four to six hundred million people out of 
the three billion inhabitants presumed to be living on our planet, 
and that by the year 2000 the Chinese mass, with its irresistible 
numerical increase, with its immemorial conceptions, which have 
often remained unchanged beneath the most unexpected adapta- 
tions, will perhaps play a decisive role. 

Left: Ko, jade blade mounted in bronze inlaid with turquoise, prob- 
ably from An-yang. Late Shang Dynasty. Right: Nephrite blade 
mounted in bronze inlaid with turquoise, probably from An-yang. 
Late Shang Dynasty. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 

Chapter One 

The Neolithic Age 

China experienced the equivalent of the Western paleolithic 
series. Skeletons have been discovered in Chou-k'ou-tien, south- 
west of Peking, of Sinanthropus Pekinensis, the contemporary 
of a very archaic fauna preserving Pliocene characteristics, hence 
ante-dating our Chellean of Europe, even though Teking man' 
already had the use of fire. Later, also in North China, it is 
presumed that there followed tools of quartzite, equivalents of 
our Mousterian implements, 'hearths* of Aurignacian aspect, 
and finally ornamental objects of bone or shell having Magda- 
lenian affinities. But Teilhard de Chardin, who points out these 
analogies and traces them in this sequence, by no means intends 
thereby to imply an exact synchronism between each Occidental 
series and its remote Chinese equivalent. A local chronology, 
on the other hand, is provided by the stages in the formation 
of the blanket of loess that today covers a large part of North 
China: the Sinanthrope, at the base of the loess deposit; the 
successive paleolithic stages on the various 'steps' of the loess; 
and the Chinese neolithic on the surface. 1 

1 See Teilhard de Chardin, Esquisse de Pr^histoire Chinoise, Bulletin catbo- 
lique de Pikin, March 1934. 

3, Vase, white pottery, from An-yang. Freer Gallery of Art, Wash- 

4. Ceremonial vessel, type ku, bronze. Shang Dynasty, fourteenth to 
twelfth century B.C. Musie Gitimet, Paris. 


A distinguished specialist in this field, the Swedish archaeolog- 
ist J. G. Andersson, places the pottery of Ch'i-chia-p'ing, in 
Kansu, at the beginning of the Chinese neolithic series. We may 
note that in this case we have to do with a culture both external 
to and anteceding the true proto-historic civilization of China, 
since Kansu, at this period, was certainly inhabited by another 
race and since, if we accept Andersson's relative chronology, the 
pottery in question belongs to the very height of the 'legendary* 
period, between 2500 and 2200, and therefore even before the 
Hsia dynasty. The Ch'i-chia-p'ing vases, some of which have 
the kuan amphora shape, are often decorated with long parallel 
scores, as though drawn with a -comb. The Chinese archaeologist 
G. D. Wu, on the other hand, relegates the Ch'i-chia-p'ing style 
to a much later date (about the middle of the Shang period?) 4 
And he assigns the pottery found at Hou-kang, in the extreme 
north of Honan — very simple wares, likewise decorated with 
parallel streaks, as if incised, but almost without painting — to 
the beginning of Chinese neolithic pottery-making. In any case, 
we may note that 'combed' ornamentation existed in early times 
in the pottery of northern Russia and of Siberia. 5 

Next comes the beautiful polychrome painted pottery, with 
spiral designs, found particularly at Yang-shao (Honan province) 
and at Pan Shan (Kansu province). The Yang-shao style dates 
back, roughly, to the Hsia dynasty (according to Andersson it 
might extend from 2200 to 1700); the Pan Shan group, with 
its very elaborate designs, represents a phase that the same 
archaeologist calls 'middle Yang-shao*. These chronological 

4 Bylin Althin, putting Ch'i-chia-p'ing even later, brings this pottery down 
to the period of the Shang bronzes (Ch'i-chia-p'ing and Lo-han-t'ang, b.m.f.e.a., 
Stockholm, Bulletin no. 18, 1946, p. 467). Of. Sidney Kaplan, Some Observations 
on Ch'i-chia-p'ing and Li-fan Pottery, Szechwan, Harvard Journal of Asiatic 
Studies, 1948, p. 187. 

5 Menghin placed between 2000 and 1500 the 'recent' phase of 'combed' 
pottery known in central Siberia, the region of Yenisei, by the tombs of Bazaicha 
near Krasnoyarsk (Weltgesckichte der Steinzeit, p. 80). 


hypotheses aside, Pan Shan brings us to a great art, with a magnif- 
icent geometrical ornamentation composed of spirals, volutes, 
waves' or festoons, check patterns, lozenges and 'snakeskins', 
of a strikingly decorative quality. At Pan Shan, likewise, certain 
wares in this style have anthropomorphic or zoomorphic designs, 
the neck of the vase being sometimes surmounted by a human 
head. At Pu-chao-chai, a site close to Yang-shao, belonging to 
a period called by G. D. Wu 'Yang-shao n\ real clay figurines 
have been discovered. Finally, Pu-chao-chai has yielded very crude 
earthenware tripods, unpainted, without any other decoration 
than longitudinal and parallel scores impressed upon the fresh 
clay, tripods that already have the ritual form of the //' or ting 
vases and the hsien that we shall find again in the archaic Chinese 

In addition, jade axes, ranging from green to black, have been 
unearthed in Yang-shao and also in the lower layer of Ch'eng- 
tzu-yai (in Shantung), the black pottery layer. 7 Fine jades, of a 
form that is already ritual (the circular pi, symbol of Heaven), 
have likewise been discovered in Pan Shan. 

Despite these links with later China, it is well to recall here 
again that while Yang-shao and Pu-chao-chai were situated well 
within the proto-Chinese domain, ihe Pan Shan site where the 
finest pieces of painted pottery have been found remained definite- 
ly outside it. It may further be mentioned that this same painted 
pottery (in particular the ornamentation of volutes and spirals) 
somewhat recalls the similar spiral-form decoration of the painted 
pottery of the Ukraine (in Tripolye, near Kiev), of Bessarabia 

a The Pu-chao-chai site has likewise yielded earthenware vases that anticipate 
forms of later Chinese bronzes such as the ckia, ku, kuei, etc. See J. G. Andersson's 
Prehistory of the Chinese, b.m.f.e.a., Stockholm, 15, 1943, pp. 256-262. Also 
G. D. Wu, Prehistoric Pottery in China, London 1938, and Creel, Les Recents Pro- 
gres de l'Arch£ologie en Chine, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, IX, 2, 1935, p. 97. 

T Andersson, Prehistory of the Chinese, 1. c, p. 126, pi. 74. 


(at Petreny) and of Rumania (at Cucuteni, near Jassy), dating 
from about the middle of the third millennium B.C. 8 

Next comes the painted pottery of Ma-chang, a locality like- 
wise situated in Kansu. The Ma-chang ornamentation continues 
that of Pan Shan, but with special themes: frequent lozenges or 
circles filled with checks, zigzags, t's and l's intertwined, the 
whole at times recalling ornamental basket-work; or else lentoid 
and leaf -shaped designs, perhaps derived from cowrie shells and 
finally, here too, highly stylized anthropomorphic designs. 9 We 
may note that the imitation of basket-work and T L designs are 
to be found again in the bronze age, among the Shang bronzes. 10 
According to Andersson, the Ma-chang pottery belongs to the late 
Hsia period and the beginning of the Shang period immediately 
anteceding the An-yang bronzes (these being presumed, as we 
shall see, to have been produced between 1300 and 1028). It 
might be placed between 1700 and 1300. Andersson, moreover, 
finds similarities between the Ma-chang ornamentation and that 
of the neolithic painted pottery recently discovered in Turfan 
and in Cherchen in Chinese Turkestan. 11 Already we can observe 
the transmission of influences along the trail of oases of the future 
'Silk Road\ 

It should be remarked, moreover, that most of the decorative 

8 Gordon Childe, Dawn of European Civilization (4th ed., London, 1947), 
places the beginning of Ukrainian civilization or the civilization of Tripolye about 
1900 b.c. and situates its last flowering about 1400 B.C. (loc. cit., p. 145). For the 
present state of the question as regards the culture of Tripolye, Cf. Tatiana 
Passek, Classement Cbronologique des Colonies de Tripolyi, Moscow, 1950, and 
the review in Soviet Literature, August 1950, sec. 8, p. 202. 

9 As we know, the cowrie shell (undoubtedly because of its •religious' mea- 
ning) served as currency among several proto-historic populations. 

M See Max Loehr, Neue Typen grauer Shang-Keramik, in Sinologiscbe Ar- 
beiten, Peking, 1943, pi. 1, pp. 86-87, showing the transmission and the evolution 
of geometric motifs, between (1) the painted pottery of Kansu, (2) that of Honan, 
(3) black pottery, (4) grey pottery, (5) white pottery, (6) the ornamentation of 
the Shang bronzes. 

n Folke Bergman, Archaeological Researches in Sinkiang (SinoSwedish Expe- 
dition), 1939, and Andersson, Prehistory of the Chinese, pp. 279-280. 


motifs of Yang-shao and of Pan Shan, in particular their fine 
spirals, do not recur in those later products of Chinese art proper, 
the Shang bronzes. On the other hand, several of the themes devel- 
oped in the next neolithic phase, found at Ma-chang (check-work 
and lozenge designs with angular or T L strip patterns, all equally 
in imitation of basketry) were to pass over, as we have just indi- 
cated, into the ornamentation of the Shang bronzes. 12 More than 
this, we may suspect in a Ma-chang motif (two arms lifted in 
the gesture of prayer) the origin of a similar theme from the 
Shang period that Umehara was to find both on the white pottery 
of An-yang and on a bronze in the Sumitomo collection, a theme 
that is in fact a very clear anthropomorphic schematization whose 
filiation would thus be established. 18 

At the same time as the painted ware of Eurasian affinities 
was being made, neolithic China produced a wholly different type : 
the black pottery (ranging from grey to jet-black), which is found 
predominantly in the province of Shantung, and may date from 
the end of the Hsia dynasty. Often of an extreme fineness and 
polished on the outside, this black pottery was made on the 
wheel. 14 The site of Ch'eng-tzu-yai (near Tsinan, in Shantung) 
where it has been found in abundance, is on the location of a 
sizeable neolithic city, surrounded by a rampart of stamped earth 
a mile or so in length. Black pottery is also found on the lower 
level of Hsiao-t'un (An-yang), a level contemporaneous, it seems, 
with Ch'eng-tzu-yai. 15 

B Loehr, Neue Typen grauer Shang-Keramik, loc. «/., pi. i. 

33 Harada Yoshito, K*uei according to the definition in the Shuowen, Bulletin 
of Eastern Art, no. 28, Institute of Art Research, Tokyo, April 1942, p. 4, fig. 2. 
Compare with Andersson's Researches into the Prehistory of the Chinese, b.m.f.e.a., 
Stockholm, no. 15, 1943, pp. 190^191. 

14 A monograph by the Chinese archaeologist Li Chi (1934). Numerous 
specimens of black pottery are to be seen in the museum at Toronto. Several 
vases of this pottery conform to the various ritual types of the Shang bronzes that 
we shall describe further on. There is also in this museum a statuette in the 
round of a passant bull, likewise in black pottery. 

M Wu, Prehistory Pottery, pp. 23, 36 and 59. 


Other centres of prehistoric pottery have been discovered in 
Szechwan, near the gorges of the Yangtze, and in the tombs in 
the terraced slopes in the surroundings of Li-fan (north of 
Chengtu). This region has yielded up, successively, a corded pot- 
tery, at first very crude; a red pottery with black geometric d&ror 
recalling the painted pottery dating from the end of the neolithic 
period in North China; a black pottery recalling that of Shan- 
tung, and a white pottery similar to the Shang pottery of the 
An-yang excavations. 16 This sequence is interesting. It confirms 
the fact that the prehistoric and proto-historic civilization attested 
by the series of potteries was not peculiar to the regions inhabited 
by the Proto-Chinese (Honan, Shantung), but also extended over 
regions certainly inhabited by other races, as Szechwan then was, 
equally with Kansu. 

The Civilization of the Shang-Yin 

The Shang dynasty, which towards the end received the name 
of the Yin dynasty, and which according to Karlgren's rectified 
chronology reigned between 1523 and 1028 B.C., was for a long 
time nothing more than a name to us. 17 Yet Chinese traditions 
assure us that these rulers were established on the middle course 
of the Yellow River, in the north of Honan and its neighbouring 
districts, that is to say at the junction of the loess plateaux and 
the alluvial Great Plain, in that 'Chinese Touraine that in fact 
constitutes one of the most fertile regions of ancient China. The 
same traditions gave us to understand that in the midst of this 
wealth of nature the material civilization of the Shang reached 
a remarkably high level and that the royal court gave free rein 

M Cheng Te-k'un, Szechwan Pottery, West China Union University Museum, 
Pretty Press (Nicholls and Co.), London, Apollo Annual, 1948, and The Uthic 
Industries of Prehistoric Szechwan, also, Offprint Series no. 1, 1942. 

17 For the Shang chronology, see Karlgren, b.m.f.e.a., Stockholm, no. 17, 
1945, p. 121. 


few bronze daggers also found must belong to the end of the 
Andronovo period, if not even to the following epoch, the Ka- 
rasuk. In any case, what we have here is only a very primitive 
metallurgy that seems hardly capable of having given rise in 
China to an art of bronze as developed as that of An-yang. It 
would be more reasonable to seek the direct origins of Chinese 
bronze in the area of Hither Asia through Iran and Kashgar. We 
must in any case recognize that no solution is to be anticipated 
so long as the sites of the first Shang capitals in Honan, ante- 
dating An-yang, which hide the secret of the origins of Chinese 
bronze, have not been excavated. 24 

But what can be done — and Granet has taken this immense 
task upon himself— is to rediscover the ancient legends relating 
to the magic powers of the metal-founder and the smith — pow- 
ers associated with the notion of the K'uei, the demi-god dragon 
(a dragon with a single foot, as in its animalized representations 
on the Shang of 'Warring States' bronzes). Yii the Great, the 
legendary founder of the Hsia dynasty, is the metal-founder par 
excellence, and a good part of Chinese primitive magic, with the 
concordance between the Drum and Thunder, goes back as he 
does 'to the brotherhood of smiths, custodians of the most won- 
drous of magic arts and of the secret of the primal powers'. 25 
Before him, Huang-ti (the last of the mythical Three Kings) 
had cast a tripod cauldron, 'after which he rose to Heaven, mount- 
ed on a Dragon'. Yii the Great, who in the same way cast nine 
tripod cauldrons, which after him were the dynastic talismans 
of the Hsia household, 'was aided in battle against the Fan-f eng 
genii by Dragons and by Thunder'. 26 

Throughout these legends we see to what extent the intro- 
duction of metallurgy must have transformed Chinese society, 

94 Karlgren, Some Chinese Bronzes in the Museum of Far Eastern Anti- 
quities, B.M.F.E.A., 21, Stockholm, 1949, pp. 22-23. 
M Marcel Granet, Danses et IJgendes, p. 611, 
98 Id., Ibid, p. 511. 

5. Ritual vessel, type ting, bronze. Sharig Dynasty. Musie Guimet, 

6. Mirror, bronze inlaid with gold and silver. Chou Dynasty. 


since it is found associated with the most ancient myths and magic 
practices of the following epoch. 

It may be interesting to recall, moreover, that according to 
the Chinese tradition, if Yii the Great was able to create a 
dynasty by having cast the nine magic cauldrons of the Hsia, 
it was because 'the metal had been brought him from the Far 
Countries and offered in tribute by the Nine Pastors'. 27 Is this 
a blurred reminiscence of the importation of metallurgy to China 
through pastoral tribes? 2S 

* * * 

Although it had already achieved an ama2ing mastery of the 
art of bronze, the civilization of the Shang, as the An-yang 
excavations reveal it, had not wholly relinquished neolithic tools. 
Knives, axes, even fragments of vases in polished stone, as well 
as marble vases, are found in An-yang. There is a connection 
to be made between this industry and the working of jade, a 
noble material for which the Chinese have always had a special 
predilection because of the Virtue' that it contains. 

The Shang religion involved, in particular, the worship of 
ancestors and the practice of divination. The oracle was consulted 
by means of tortoise-shells or ox-bones, in which cracks produced 
by the application of heat were interpreted by soothsayers as if 

* Id., Ibid., p. 489. 

* The first Shang bronzes (those of the hitherto unknown period preceding 
An-yang) may have been 'translated* not only from pottery, but also from wood. 
The Abb6 Breuil has informed us that certain // in the Marguerite Glotz collection 
seemed to suggest, in the way the motifs were carved ('as if with a knife'), an 
imitation of ancient sculptures in wood (Grousset and Demoulin, Evolution des 
Bronzes Chinois Archasques, 1937, p. 34, fig. m, 2). Now Umehara has discovered, 
through imprints (in colours) left on the floor of An-yang tombs, the trace of 
ancient wooden vases with the same ornamentation painted on them as is found 
on the Shang bron2es and on the white pottery and the marbles of the same 
epoch. Cf. Umehara, Antiquities Exhumed from the Yin Tombs outside Chang 
Te fu, Artibus Asiae, xni, 3, 1950, pp. 158-165, 


they were a magic writing bearing the response of the divinity. 29 
In addition to oxen, sheep, etc., sacrificial offering was also made 
of human victims, as is attested by the discovery of corpses decap- 
itated and buried side by side, sometimes by the hundred. 

These details are confirmed by inscriptions on bones or on 
tortoise-shells, exhumed by the thousands from the Shang tombs. 
Writing was not only known but had even reached a certain 
stage of generalization. The Shang characters (of which the 
present-day Chinese characters are but the stylization) were picto- 
graphic, and we can still discover in them the drawings (human 
figures, animals, plants, objects) that gave rise to them. But if 
pictography is the basis of these signs, it is already highly deve- 
loped, stylized and at first sight often unrecognizable. The same 
thing holds here as for the origin of Chinese bronze: in order 
to know the primitive Chinese pictograms one would have to 
excavate beneath the first Shang capitals, and even beneath those 
of the Hsia, long ante-dating An-yang. 

The art of An-yang is of great importance. The painted pot- 
tery of the neolithic period has been replaced by a beautiful 
white pottery of which the ornamentation, with slightly raised 
fillets \t'ao-t'ieh masks and geometric motifs), is identical with 
that of the bronzes of the same period. 30 We may, for example, 
compare in this respect the lozenge motifs of a ting vase in the 
Guimet Museum and the similar ornamentation of a fragment 

* The choice of the tortoise carapace as an instrument of divination is not 
a haphazard one: 'The tortoise is the image of the world: its carapace is round 
above like the sky, square below like the earth. By virtue of this, tortoises have 
a stabilizing role: they support and bear certain islands of the ocean. It is because 
they stabilize the world that they were later represented as supporting the steles 
of the classic period (Han steles of Szechwan, steles of the Liang and the Tang, etc.) 
In the archaic period, the tortoise-shell is therefore well qualified to assist in the 
knowledge of terrestrial and celestial things'. (N. Vandier-Nicolas). 

" Umehara, Etude sur la Poterie Blanche Fouillee dans les Ruines de la 
Caprtale des Yin, Memoirs of the Toho Bunka Gakuin, Kyoto, 1932, and Kanan 
sho- any a shuteudo haku shoku doki sairon. Once More on the White Earthen- 
ware Vessels Found at Anyang, Sbinagaku, vol. ix, no. 4, November 1939, p. 548. 


of white pottery in the Cernuschi Museum; 31 and especially, in 
the Freer Gallery in Washington, a certain admirable large vase 
of white pottery, intact and complete, and a certain bronze, also 
Shang, both decorated with the same themes. 

The Shang bronze vases, found in great numbers in the An- 
yang excavations, show us a 'typology* that is already fixed: the 
forms of several categories of these vases were hardly to change 
through the centuries. 32 These are, in fact, forms consecrated by 
religion, ritual types, each of which had its special function in 
the sacrificial offerings (viands, cereals, beverages). Thus we see 
appear in Shang art the It tripod, with its mammary allusion, 
which really only translates into bronze the type of terra cotta 
tripods already met with in neolithic pottery; the round ting, a 
round pot, likewise mounted on three legs, and the square ting, 
a rectangular pot, mounted on four legs; the li-ting 9 a hybrid form 
of tripod, combining the // and the round ting; the yu and the 
kuang, covered pots, the former being characterized by a movable 
handle and the second by a grasp, the cover of the kuang often 
assuming, in addition, the form in high relief of a ram's, ele- 
phant's or other animal's head; the tsun and the ku, varieties of 
cups, the first wider, the second in the form of a very tall, slim 
chalice, wide-mouthed, of a very elegant design; the / or fang 
(square /), a vertical parallelepiped surmounted by a cover; the 
chiieh and the chia, tripods characterized by two small protube- 
rances rising from the orifice, the first type of which, the chiieh 
cup, has a remarkable elegance due to the strut of its legs and 
the widening out of the chalice, prolonged by two long lips. 

As for the sacrificial use of these bronzes, the ting and // tripod 

81 Ren6 Grousset and Henriette Demoulin-Bernard, L'Evolution des Bronzes 
Chinois Archaiques, 1937, p. 35 and pi. III. 

88 See, as a basis for what is to follow, Karlgren, Yin and Chou Researches, 
b.m.f.e.a., Stockholm, 1935, and New Studies on Chinese Bronzes, ibid., 1937; 
also the very important study (in Chinese) by Jung Keng, The Shang and Chou 
Bronzes, summarized by Rolf Stein in the Bulletin de I'Ecole Frangaise d'Extrime- 
Orient, 1942, pp. 394 to 405. 


cauldrons were intended for the cooking of meats; the large 
cups or low urns with side handles, called kuei (or tuei) served 
for offerings of vegetables or grains: the fruits were presented 
in the cups mounted on legs, called tou\ the beverages were 
offered to ancestors or divinities in the tall 'bronze jar' with three 
superimposed sections, round or square, called tsun, in the chueh 
and chia tripod goblets, or in the ku chalice; liquids were also 
poured into the covered ovoid wine pot called yu. zz 

As well as establishing the typology of the forms exemplified 
by the sacrificial vases, Shang art also established a number of 
highly characteristic decorative themes: decoration in the form 
of nail-heads; segmented edges; simple or double, rounded or 
angular spirals, spirals ending in a kind of swelling, spirals 
whose contours are punctuated by lines in the form of commas; 
festoons; double or triple chevrons; cowrie-shell motifs; the 
whirls and windings of the lei wen and the yiin wen that often 
move, like our Greek-Key pattern, at right angles, and that per- 
haps evoke the cloud from which the lightning bursts (whence the 
name 'lines of lightning* by which they are sometimes designa- 
ted); 84 horizontal bands formed of a procession' of 'hooked z's'; 
bands of lozenges joined end to end to form a vast woven ground- 
work ; variations, apparently confused, but in reality quite regular, 
on the theme of crossed t's or i/s composing a motif of arab- 
esques, etc. We may recall that some of these motifs, in parti- 
cular the 'circlet of lozenges' and the intertwined t's and l's, 
already appeared on the neolithic painted pottery of the Ma-chang 

* The covered pot with movable handle called yu should not be confused 
with the wide, deep vase with a slightly bell-mouthed edge and likewise used for 
wine, called yu. In the period with which we are concerned, the yu is much more 
frequent than the yu. Nor must the / or fang-i, a vertical parallelepiped, be con- 
fused with the / (Middle Chou), which is a quadruped sauce-dish'. Cf. Jean 
Buhot, correcting himself, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, xi, 3, September 1937, 
p. 176. 

* The ancient character used to represent thunder was in fact identical with 
the old form of the let wen (two spirals turning in opposite directions). We may 
also note the variants of the lei wen in hooks, breasts, waves, etc. 

7. Ceremonial vessel with cover, type kuang, bronze. Late Shang 
Dynasty. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 


period. But what is entirely new in the decoration of the Shang 
bronzes is the figures of monsters, dragons and t'ao-t'ieh. 

The t'ao-t'ieh (a word of uncertain etymology) is the mask, 
seen full-face and spread out flat, of a monster whose horns, big 
eyes, ridge of forehead and nose, and powerful muzzle with lips 
curled back, baring the fangs, cannot fail to produce a startling 
impression. In the Shan hoi ching (ch. 3), it is an anthropophagous 
monster, dwelling in a mountain rich in copper (Granet, Danses 
et Legendes, p. 491). As in other similar masks of Asiatic mytho- 
logy (the Javanese kdla, for example), the lower jaw is usually 
absent. 35 Claws sometimes flank the lower part of the animal's 
head on both sides, making the animal seem to be crouching, 
ready to spring. For it is indeed an animal, quite realistic ini- 
tially. 30 On several of our Shang bronzes, the t'ao-t'ieh is clearly 
the face of a bull, a ram, a tiger or an owl (more rarely a stag). 37 

83 See Gilberte de Coral Remusat, Animaux Fantastiques de l'lndochine, de 
Tlnde et de la Chine, Bulletin de I'Ecole Francaise d f Extreme-Orient ; vol. xxxvi, 
2, 1937; and Gisbert Combaz, Masques et Dragons en Asie, Milanges Chinois et 
Bouddhiques, vil, Brussels, 1945, pp. 72 ff. On what may be the equivalent of 
such masks in ancient Hither Asia, see Parrot's Deux Lions Gardiens, Musees de 
France, April 1948, p. 64. The absence of a lower jaw in the t'ao-t'ieh as in other 
zoomorphic monsters is perhaps due to the fact that they may have been derived 
from the skin of an animal used as a disguise by sorcerers in certain magic dances, 
a skin of which the head, in order to 'cap* the shaman, had necessarily to be 
reduced to the upper part. 

* In the Shang bronzes there are also to be found human masks, which 
sometimes (in contrast to the t'ao-t'ieh) have a lower jaw. Mr Minkenhof, a keen 
specialist, notes that these human masks, as they break away from the influence 
of the t'ao-t'ieh, become increasingly realistic. See S. H. Minkenhof, Bulletin der 
Asiatische Kunst, Amsterdam, no. 29, April 1950. On the initial relations between 
the t'ao-t'ieh and the human mask, see also Harada, Bulletin of Eastern Art, 
no. 28, Tokyo, April 1942. Mr Harada here compares an An-yang white pottery 
motif and a human mask that appears on a bronze in the Sumitomo collection. 
We ourselves suggest a comparison between the motif on the white pottery in 
question (human arms raised and spread out in a gesture of supplication) and 
rather similar anthropomorphic designs on the Ma-chang painted pottery (re- 
produced by Andersson, Researches into the Prehistory of the Chinese, b.m.f.e.a., 
Stockholm, 15, 1943, pp. 190-191). 

37 Simply by way of an example of a clearly zoomorphic t'ao-t'ieh we may 
mention the large //' tripod of the Michel Calmann collection, with its rough 


Such is the case on the two yu (which are in fact nearly identical, 
forming a pair) one in the Cernuschi Museum and the other in the 
Sumitomo Collection, which represent a tiger without a lower 
jaw, clasping (and, according to Henri Maspero, perhaps pro- 
tecting) a human being; 38 such is also the case on a number of 
haft-ends, one at the Cernuschi Museum, another in the David- 
Weill collection, and a third in the von der Heydt Collection, 
representing a ram surmounting a human head. 30 The elephant is 
more rare and is seldom to be found except on a limited number 
of vases; nor can it really be said to be related to a t'ao-t'ieh*® 

green patina, its ornamentation composed of deeply incised hooks, its legs capped 
by three powerful masks of rams with coiled horns decorating the bulge (See 
Georges Salles, Bronzes Chinois, Orangerie, 1934, pi. 2). Or else the // tripod 
of the Marguerite Glotz collection, a tripod of rather squat form, with comma 
motifs, a heavy green patina, and above each leg a t'ao-t'ieb mask with buf- 
falo horns (Grousset and Demoulin-Bernard, involution des Bronzes Chinois 
Archalques, Cernuschi Museum, 1937, p. 34 and pis. 3, 11). On the role of the 
owl, which is the bird of lightning and (by virtue of this) a metamorphosis of 
the magic drum and can change itself into a dragon (k'uei), see Granet, Danses 
et Legendes, pp. 515 ff. On the t'ao-t'ieh as owl and as ram, ibid., p. 491 
('although the t'ao-t'ieh, by its name, appears to be an owl, it resembles a ram 
with a human head, tiger's teeth, human fingernails and eyes in its armpits'). 

w We may point out another prodigious tiger's head (but having a lower 
jaw) as 'front termination' of the covers of a pair of kuang, in the Freer Gallery 
(Freer Gallery, Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes, 1946, pi. 26-27). A head like this 
might be compared with the famous Shang wild beast statue in marble, from the 
An-yang excavations, of which we shall speak further on. The two 'tiger' kuang 
of the Freer are, however, of a later style (Middle Chou). As for the kuang at 
Harvard, with a cover in the shape of a tiger's head, it seems to be of a transi- 
tional style between the Shang and the Chou, a style that Karlgren calls % Yin- 
Chou* (eleventh to ninth centuries). Cf. Bulletin of the Fogg Museum of Art, 
x, 2, November 1943. 

* V. Griessmaier, Sammlung von der Heydt, Vienna, 1936, fig. 122. 

40 The elephant on a kuang vase lid, reproduced by W. C. White in his 
article on one of the An-yang tombs, the so-called 'elephant's tomb' (because 
of the representations of this animal, it seems), in The Illustrated London News, 
March 23, 1935, p. 482. We may note that the Chinese archaeologist Jung Keng 
distinguishes no less than sixteen ways of representing the t'ao-t'ie under the 
Shang and the early Western Chou ( 1300-950). We may call attention to an 
exceptional representation, in the form of an oblong pointed leaf (pseudocicada), 


This realism was to disappear progressively in the course of 
the succeeding epochs to make way, in the t'ao-t'ieh masks, for a 
general and conventional stylization, which was to obliterate not 
only the characteristics of the animal represented, but finally the 
animal allusion itself. The Han t'ao-t'ieh, as we shall see, was 
already tending toward the mascaron. At the end of its evolution, 
in the Ming period (sixteenth to seventeenth centuries A.D.), 
the t'ao-t'ieh was no longer anything but a purely decorative 
theme whose elements were decomposed, dissociated, unrecogni- 
zable. The value of Shang art, on the contrary, resides in the 
realism, for a long time so powerful, of these semi-bestial, semi- 
divine representations. 

Along with the t'ao-t'ieh, dragons {k'uei) occupy an important 
place in Shang ornamentation (bronzes, jades, white pottery). 41 

on the ku and the tsun (Keng, Bronzes of Shang and Chou, Yen-ching Journal 
of Chinese Studies, Harvard Yen-ching Institute, .Peking 1941, summarized by 
Rolf Stein, Bulletin de VEcole Francaise d? Extreme-Orient, 1941, 2, p. 402). 
* On the various forms of k'uei, cf. the important article by Serge ElisseefF, 
Quelques Heures a l'Exposition des Bronzes Chinois de l'Orangeries, 1934 : Les 
Motifs des Bronzes Chinois, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, viii, 4, p. 229. The 
Kuo-yu (a compilation of approximately the third century B.C.) establishes a 
distinction in meaning between the two terms k'uei and lung that designated the 
dragon. The lung (like the Indian makara) is supposedly the water dragon; the 
k'uei, the dragon of trees and rocks. But other texts represent the k'uei itself 
as an aquatic monster, while in medieval Chinese painting, the lung appears as 
the dragon of storm clouds. See also the article, quoted above, by Harada, K'uei 
According to the Definition in the Shuo-wen, Bulletin of Eastern Art, 28, Tokyo, 
April 1942. "We may note that the Shuo-wen referred to here is a dictionary 
of the end of the Han period (about 200 A.D.), or possibly even later, which may 
have confused the meanings of two quite distinct Chinese characters which were 
roughly similar in pronunciation, the one — k'uei — referring to the archaic dragon, 
the other — kuei—to 'spirits' and phantoms. In the case of the k'uei as of the 
t'ao-t'ieh, it must be recognized that the explanations we have of them are com- 
paratively late, dating from a time when the links had been lost with that 'pri- 
mitive mentality' that might give us the key to such conceptions. Granet is the 
only one to have worked along this line by showing that originally % k*uei and 
lung are two dragons connected with the drum'. In general, he notes, our sources 
connect the k'uei with 'stone and wood', in other words, with the mountain, 
whereas Confucius connects it with water, and vice versa for the lung. According 
to the Shan hai ching, studied by Granet, the k'uei is 'an animal having the 


They generally appear with their body seen in profile, with gaping 
mouth, and in a form that from the beginning is highly stylized. 
The bird, a similar decorative theme in Shang art, sometimes 
has a relatively more naturalistic form (hoopoe or phoenix), and 
at other times also becomes stylized, ending, like certain dragons, 
in a long horizontal tail rolled up at the end. A variety of winged 
dragon {k'uei-jeng, or k'uei-phoenix) seems intermediary be- 
tween the dragon thus conceived and the bird. Another category, 
the plumed dragon, has been compared to the pre-Columbian 
plumed serpent. Still another hybrid form is that of the dragon 
with a trunk that seems a composite of the dragon and the ele- 
phant. The elephant appears in profile as a design in relief in the 
decoration of certain bronzes, more rarely in the round. 42 Related 
to the dragon, too, are the more simplified motif of the serpent, 
and that of a reptile, likewise in the form of a serpent, covered 
with scales. 

appearance of an ox, with a green body, no horns and only one leg. It lives in 
the Eastern sea. When it enters the water or emerges from it, there must be wind 
or rain. Its brilliance is like that of the sun or the moon. The noise that it makes 
is like thunder. Huang Ti, having caught it, made a drum of its hide. He struck 
with the bone of the Thunder Beast — the sound could be heard five hundred li — in 
order to inspire a respectful fear. The Thunder Beast has the body of a dragon 
and a human head; it plays the drum on its belly and explodes with laughter' 
(Granet, Danses et Ugendes, p. 510). The dragon is characterized, moreover, 
by its mobility. Thus it reveals itself in the torrent that seethes in the depth of 
the valleys, in the fleeing cloud, in lightning and in thunder. By virtue of the 
same analogies, it lives on the edge of rivers. It also serves as a draught animal 
for saints. A certain sovereign of the Hsia dynasty had a team of four dragons, 
two from the Yellow river and two from the Han river. (Vandier-Nicolas). 
48 W. C. White, The Illustrated London News, May 18, 1935, p. 888. We 
may note that the entire 'body' of certain huo bronze vases may take the form 
of an elephant, as in the case of the two elephant-shaped huo of Chou style in 
the Guimet Museum ('Camondo elephant') and in the Freer Gallery (Freer Gallery, 
Chinese Bronzes, 1946, p. 24), the lid of the latter being surmounted by a second 
and smaller elephant, likewise treated in the round. For elephants drawn in profile 
on the reliefs of various Kuang vases, see Karlgren, New Studies on Chinese Bron- 
zes, B.M.F.E.A., 1937, pi. xxvn (Tokyo Imperial Museum); and The Sum/totno 
Collection, abridged catalogue of 1934, p. xxrx. 


We have mentioned only the best- known — what we might 
call the classic— types of the k'uei theme. But the archaeologist 
Jung Keng, who has just made an exhaustive study of them, 
distinguishes no less than fifteen categories. Of these let us merely 
mention some of the most interesting in addition to the ones 
already referred to: the two-headed k'uei, current under the 
Shang; the triangular k'uei ('in which are placed two other k'uei 
facing each other'); the k'uei with two tails and four legs, and 
the two-tailed and legless k'uei; the dragon with two horns rolled 
up in a circle; the horned dragon (an umbrella-like' horn, with 
the nose forming a trident, or lance-shaped horn and the nose 
curved upward) etc. 43 

The cicada is another of the classic themes of Shang decora- 
tion, and often appears in a form that is quite naturalistic; but 
a distinction must be made between this and a spindle-shaped 
motif that at first sight looks as if it might be a cicada, but which 
is found to have the head of a t'ao-t'ieh, or to be composed of 
two extremely stylized facing dragons. Some of these motifs have 
indeed been given a geometric stylization that renders them well- 
nigh indecipherable, as is the case with the rectangular strips 
in three decorative registers, the whole of which is supposed to 
constitute the body of a dragon. An instance of this kind of styli- 
zation is provided by a type of t'ao-t'ieh mask found on certain 
archaic bronzes or jades (particularly in the Chou period), in 
which the mask is formed by the bodies of two dragons placed 
symmetrically face to face. 44 These stylistic tricks bear witness to 
a technique in full command of its medium, which makes use of 

48 Jung Keng, Shang Chou i-ch'i t'ung-k'ao (The Bronzes of the Shang and 
Chou), Ed. Harvard-Yenching Institute, 2 vols., Peking, 1941 (Yenching Journal 
of Chinese Studies, Monograph Series, no. 17). Important review by Rolf Stein, 
Bulletin de VEcole Frangaise d'Extrime-Orient, xli, 1941-2, p. 403. 

** See the substantial article on this subject by CI. Levi-Strauss, Le Dedou- 
blement de la Representation dans les Arts de l'Asie et de l'Amenque, in R*- 
naissance, Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes de New- York, XL, ii-nx, 1945, 
pp. 168-186, 


its virtuosity to pose for us, by an interplay of themes, a series 
of enigmas which lead to the unexpected and bring new life 
to the subject. 

Karlgren, who has analysed Shang decoration found at An- 
yang better than anyone, discerns two tendencies, in fact, in the 
bronze motifs of this period: the first, still naturalistic, the second 
tending towards an increasing stylization that gradually destroyed 
the original simplicity of the motifs. It was the latter tendency 
that was to triumph in the following period, at the beginning of 
the Chou dynasty. 45 

The ritual vases of the Shang, in particular those of the first 
An-yang style, are all the more surprising in that they abruptly 
reveal to us not only, as we have seen, an already perfect tech- 
nique, but also an aesthetic that has in one leap reached its apogee. 
The power of architectural construction of certain yu, kuel or 
fang-i cooking vessels, the elegance and slenderness of certain 
chiieh cups, have never been surpassed. To be sure, the following 
epochs, up to the approach of modern times, were indefinitely to 
repeat these forms, which were thenceforth traditional. But the 
decorative motifs were never to regain the same vigour. This is 
because what appears to be decoration was in reality primitive 
magic. Each of these motifs, whose complete meaning eludes us, 
held an occult power. There is, for example, in the Shang t'ao-t'ieh 
the same power of enchantment as in the pre-Columbian or negro 
masks. 46 The aesthetic value, the decorative splendour of these 
bronzes reside in the fearful powers with which they were invested 
and which, in the quiet of our display cases, still at moments 
bring them to life before our eyes. But immediately after the 
Shang this vigour was to lessen. Professor Karlgren, here too, 
distinguishes two styles in the An-yang bronzes: the first, still 
naturalistic, in which the monster clearly shows his animal origin; 

48 Karlgren, New Studies on Chinese Bronzes, b.m.f.e.a., 9, Stockholm, 1937, 
pp. 9-118. 

48 Cf. Georges Bureau, Les Masques, 1948. 


the second, already in the process of stylization, in which the 
simplicity of the mythological mask begins to dissolve with the 
breaking up of the elements composing it. 47 

Very fine marble vases, having basically the same ornamen- 
tation as that of the bronze vases (t'ao-t'ieh, dragons, etc.), have 
likewise been discovered in the region of An-yang. Several Ame- 
rican museums hold magnificent specimens of these. 48 

The same vigour as in the most archaic sacrificial vases is 
shown by the Shang sculptures, likewise originating in the An- 
yang region. 49 These are blocks of white marble or polished 
limestone like alabaster, blocks carved in the round in great 
masses, both crude and powerful, in which the planes flow into 
one another, neglecting contrasts as well as details and aiming 
solely at over-all effects, except that the whole surface is chiselled 
in lines of the same style as in the ornamentation of the bronzes 
and especially of the jades. There is a marked contrast between 
the simplified realism contained, .as it were, within the contours, 
and the stylization of the linear incised decor. The animals re- 
presented in these sculptures are the same as those of the bronzes : 
rams, bulls, owls, felines, and a peculiar kind of tiger or bear, 
mouth gaping, sitting monkey-fashion; 50 there is also a fragment 
of a person seated, hands clasping the knees; 51 and there is the 
marble statuette of an elephant in the Inoue (Tsuneichi) collection 
in Tokyo, a reproduction of which was recently published by 

41 Karlgren, New Studies on Chinese Bronzes, b.m.f.e.a., Stockholm, 9, 1937, 
pp. 14-17. 

48 Marble vase I of Kansas City, reproduced by Umehara, in Antiquities 
Exhumed from the Yin Tombs outside Chang te 4 fu, in Artihus Asiae, xm, 3, 1950, 
pi. II, p. 252. 

49 See O. Karlbeck, Anyang Marble Sculpture, Yin and Chou Researches, 
B.M.F.E.A., Stockholm, 1935, p. 61. 

88 Reproduction in H. J. Timperley, The Illustrated London News, April 4, 
1936, p. 589, fig. 14. 

" Creel, Birth of China, pi. in, p. 66. 


Umehara. 3 - Another piece of white marble from An-yang has a 
type of t'ao4ieh mask also found on the bronzes, definitely feline 
in character, but with curled-up horns: a combination of two 
distinct animal themes for the representation of this monster that 
was to become classic. 53 The same collection has jade figurines 
representing a small person standing, with arms which were 
apparently movable. 54 

Weapons of bronze are entitled to a special place in An-yang 
art. Excavations have yielded lance-heads, rectangular or trapez- 
oidal knives and powerful axes whose edge-side is often decor- 
ated with a robust Shang theme. We may note in particular the 
dagger-axes (ko) of which the 'heel' frequently curves over and 
is sometimes cut out into a dragon motif, occasionally with delicate 
insets of turquoise and of malachite, a mosaic of precious stones 
of wonderful decorative effect, which makes of the ko a veritable 
jewel. 55 On the other hand, the ch'iang halberd or battle-axe, 
which is mounted like the ko perpendicularly to the handle, has 
not yet come to light among the An-yang finds. 

Chariot ornaments in bronze, harness adornments, also in 
bronze, small bronze applique fittings, also sometimes with deli- 

M Umehara, Antiquities Exhumed from the Yin Tombs outside Chang \k fu, 
in Artibus Asiae, xiu, 3, 1950, pi. 1, pp. 150-151. 

88 Creel, Ibid., pi. v, p. 106. 

** Reproduction in White, The Illustrated London News, May 18, 1935, 
p. 889, fig. 5-7. 

" See Karlgren, Weapons and Tools of the Yin Dynasty, b.m.f.e.a., Stock- 
holm, no. 17 (1945), pp. 101-144. Cf. Percival Yetts, Collection Eu?norfopoulos, 
Bronzes, vol. i, a-148, 149. Freer Gallery, Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes, 1946, 
pp. 44-45 (in certain of these ko the knife-blade is not of bronze but of a jade 
whose brightness adds further to the dazzling multicolored effect). Andersson and 
the Chinese archaeologist Li Chi believe the ko to stem from a stone axe attached 
to a handle. But another Chinese archaeologist, Chiang Ta-i, is of the opinion that 
the ko developed from a stone knife which, attached to a short handle, was used 
in harvesting, but could become a fighting weapon if it was fastened to a longer 
handle (Chiang Ta-i, On the Jade Weapons of Ancient China, Bulletin of Chinese 
Studies, vol. n, Chengtu, Sept. 1942, report by A. Rygaloff in Han-hiue t Bulletin 
du Centre Sinologique (Francais) de Pikin, vol. 2, section 4, 1949, p. 412). 

rv".' %?•- 

8. Ceremonial vessel, type kuci, bronze. Late Shang Dynasty, twelfth 
century B.C. Freer Gallery of Art. 

9. Pole top, bronze. Shang Dynasty, fourteenth to twelfth century 
B.C. David- Weill Collection, Paris. 


cate turquoise details (even, on occasion, with 'turquoise mosaics'), 
— all these fragmentary remains show us the refinement achieved 
by the art of the late Shang period. 

The An-yang tombs have likewise yielded fragments of mural 
paintings, with red, white and black colours (or green, red and 
yellow?) and motifs similar to those of the bronzes. Unfortuna- 
tely, these paintings, attested to by Mr Creel's Chinese informants, 
have never been reproduced. 56 

It seems, according to the Chinese archaelogist Li Chi, that 
the An-yang site has yielded fairly numerous jades, 57 but here too 
the clandestine character of the excavations and the absence of 
methodical publications greatly impede our study of them. May 
we note, so as not to have to revert to it, that the Chinese character 
yu 9 which we generally translate by f jade,' really designates sev- 
eral kinds of nephrite often very dark in colour, brown, black, 
rust-coloured, very deep green, sometimes without any translu- 
cency and then resembling marble. We know, moreover, or sur- 
mise, thanks to the canonical texts, that yu was an essentially 
'pure and noble' material, possessing and yielding a magic 'virtue' 
(the quintessence, perhaps, of the yang principle) and that for this 
reason it played a considerable role in the ceremonial life of the 
sovereign or the great feudal lords, as well as in funerary ritual. 58 

Despite the absence of precise knowledge of the provenance 
of the finds, Creel, White, Karlbeck and Howard Hansford be- 
lieve it possible to classify as 'Shang' and to attribute to the An- 
yang region various jades, already classical in form — forms that 
we shall come upon again in the succeeding periods of the Chou 

66 Creel, Birth of China, p. 100. The. An-yang tombs had also contained 
wooden vases painted red and green. The wood has disappeared, but the colours 
have been 'imprinted' on the walls of the tomb. (Umehara, Artibus Asiae, xiii, 
3, 1950). 

M Madeleine David, Ecole du Louvre thesis on Les Jades du Musie Gurnet 


w Karlgren, Early History of the Chou-li, B.M.F.E.A., Stockholm, no. 3, 1931, 
pp. 1-62. Idem, Fecundity Symbols in Ancient China, ibid., no. 2, 1930, p. 39. 


and of the Warring States : the circular disc pi, symbol of Heaven, 
the rectangular tube tsung, symbol of Earth; weapons, cere- 
monial no doubt, like the dagger-axe ko, whether it be a ko 
entirely of jade, or the ko with a jade blade set in a mounting 
(itself often very rich) of bronze; rectangular or trapezoidal jade 
knives, of the same model as the bronze knives mentioned above; 
even the ch'iang halberd or battle axe, a form that has not yet 
been found among the Shang bronzes. There is reason, moreover, 
to classify as Shang art a certain number of small jades represent- 
ing either animals (bears, tiger, owls, various birds, fish, etc.), or 
fantastic beings (k'uei or dragons) that are in fact identical in 
style with the same representations on the An-yang bronzes. 59 

# * * 

When we speak of Shang art on the basis of the An-yang 
finds, there is one consideration that must never be lost sight of: 
although these are the first Chinese bronzes to have come down 
to us, we are confronted, as we have seen, quite suddenly with 
a high peak of achievement. Certain combinations of motifs 
already show a remarkable refinement, for example the 'double' 
form of the t'ao-t'ieh, to which we have already called attention. 
On the belly of a p'o vase aquired by the Louvre fund and now 
in the Guimet Museum, the three t'ao-t'ieh masks that adorn the 

w A very subtle and circumspect analysis of the various arguments on this is 
found in Mile Madeleine David's manuscript thesis, pp. 45-55. See also the recent 
monograph by S. Howard Hansford, Chinese Jade Carving, London, 1950, a very 
precise study both from the mineralogical point of view and in respect of the work- 
ing of the jade. In this author's private collection (pis. 15-16), as well as in that 
of King Gustav Adolph (pis. 41-42), are found jades that can clearly be attributed 
to the An-yang excavations. There are also jades in existence that can be 'certified' 
to be Shang by their reinforcement or hafting of bronze {Freer Gallery, Catalogue 
of Chinese Bronzes). 



main band are each composed of two dragons facing each other 
or rather of one dragon with the body, as it were, divided down 
the middle by a vertical line and the two halves aplied flat to the 
band; 60 these facing dragons, as M. Leroi-Gourhan has pointed 
out, juxtaposed in this way, very precisely form a t'ao-t'teh. 61 On 
the belly of a certain chia of the former Loo collection, which has 
appeared in exhibitions at the Cernuschi Museum, the second 
band is decorated with four winged dragons whose bodies have 
likewise been split down the middle, as it were, and applied on to 
the vase. 02 Such tricks, of which examples could be given by the 
dozen, testify to a virtuosity of workmanship that obviously pre- 
supposes a rather long previous elaboration. 

Even more than an amazing technical skill, the Shang bronzes 
often reveal an artistic mastery never since equalled. There is 
power and sureness of 'architectural* construction as, for example, 
despite its crude and almost savage character, in the great // tripod 
with the three 'ram-shaped* t'ao-t'ieh of the Michel Calmann col- 
lection; in the large yu cooking vessel ('the yu of Andigne') at 
the Cernuschi Museum; 68 in the four monumental ho wine vases, 
seventy-three centimetres tall, of the Nedzu (Kaichiro) collection 
that we recently admired in Tokyo, one of which was exhibited 
in 1935 at Burlington House. 64 There is power, no less comman- 
ding, even though the piece is of the transition period between 
the Shang and the Chou (Yin-Chou style), in the large animal- 
shaped tsun, forty-five centimetres tall, with green and emerald 
patina, of the former Eumorfopoulos collection, 'a real piece of 

w Grousset and Demoulin-Bernard, Evolution des Bronzes Cbinois Archaiques, 
Cernuschi Museum, 1937, p. 39, fig. 9. 

01 A. Leroi : Gourhan, Bestiaire du Bronze Chinois, Editions d'Art et d'Histoire, 
Van Oest, 1936. 

" Grousset et Demoulin-Bernard, Evolution des Bronzes, p. 42, fig. 12. 

w Evolution des Bronzes, frontispiece. 

64 These bronzes were discovered in 1933 in the Hou-chia-chuang excava- 
tions. There an splendid reproductions in Seizansd Seishd: Illustrated Catalogue of 
the Nezu Collection, vol. VI, Chinese bronzes (particularly pis. 1 to viii), Tokyo, 
1942, with text by Umehara, 


sculpture in which the fore-quarters of two rams back to back 
are welded to form the body of the receptacle'. 65 

Faced with works like these (which are given only as exan> 
pies), observing the building up and distribution of volumes in 
so many yu and chih vessels, we realize that a true 'thoroughbred' 
Shang vase is at once an architectural symphony and a great piece 
of sculpture. We are here in the presence of masterpieces that 
compel immediate recognition. Never, in the working of this 
material, has such innate strength been displayed, revealing as 
it does, in the very manner in which it controls and disciplines 
itself, an unparalleled mastery. 

The quality and the placing of the ornamentation are no less 
surprising. We have enumerated the motifs of 'Chinese Greek/ 
of lei-wen, of yiin-wen, of lozenges, spirals, of variations of cicada 
forms, which are basic to Shang ornamentation. But the sureness 
of taste that dictates their disposition should be emphasized; 
attention should be called, for example, to the sense of values 
shown by the bronze-caster whose design for a certain ting that 
has come down to us consists of a robust band of dragons round 
the edge, and below, as though suspended from it, a dozen elegant 
triangles with cicada designs. 06 Even when this ornamentation 
becomes complex, the artist always controls it and distributes it 
without heaviness; this is why, still today, despite the fact that 
the underlying mythology is closed to us, the Shang bronzes 
speak to us, whereas so many later bronzes remain mute. 

Also it will be noted that none of these motifs has been treated 
cursorily. However reduced they may be (and some of them are 
composed of extraordinarily minute 'punctuations'), the bronze- 
founders have been careful to give each its own accent. What 
might seem a mere lacework of motifs while we are at a distance 

" Yetts, Catalogue of the Ettmorjopoulos Collection, Bronzes, vol, 1, pis. vm 
and ixa. 

M Ting vases of the Hellstrom and Karlbeck collections studied in Grousset 
and Demoulin-Bernard, Evolution des Bronzes, p. 36, pi. IV, figs. 5 and 6. 



from the vase becomes, as we approach, a living harmony in 
which each theme comes alive and plays its own part. In spite of 
the frequent filling-in of all free spaces by the web of lei-wens, 
lozenges, spirals, curlicues and interlacings (the K yu of Andigne 
at the Cernuschi Museum for example), there is never any over- 
crowding, because all the motifs are alive and eloquent with 
their own vitality. They either stand out in sharp relief or are 
hollowed out in deep grooves; for the master bronze-founder 
was at pains to give them the maximum force. One has only 
to compare a Shang bronze with a Ming bronze that aims to 
treat the same themes as its distant predecessor in order to grasp, 
in the realm of art, the difference between life and death. 

The Shang bronzes, by their strength as by their elegance, 
represent one of the high moments of the world's art. 

* * * 

The latest Soviet works lead us to believe that the art of 
the An-yang bronze-founders may have influenced the Siberian 
bronzes of the Karasuk epoch (An-yang, as we have seen, dates 
from 1300 to 1028 B.C.; Karasuk, according to S. Kiselev, from 
1200 to 700 B.C.). 67 We do in fact already find in An-yang those 
slightly curved bronze knives with animal heads (deer, horses, 
rams) that Siberian art in the 'Minusinsk depression' was to 

67 Karasuk is situated on the river of the same name, a tributary of the upper 
Yenisei, near the village of Bateny in the region of Bograd, on the territory of 
the Khakas, west of Minusinsk. The essential work on the question is now that 
of S. Kiselev, Drevnaya istoria Juzhnoy Sibiri t in Materiali i isledovaniya po or- 
cheologi s.s.s.R., no. 9, 1949 (Ancient History of Southern Siberia, in Materials 
and Researches on the Archaeology of the u.s.s.R., no. 9, 1949), pp. 62-108. We 
may recall the previous works of Kiselev on related subjects : Mongoliya v drevnosti 
(Mongolia in Antiquity), Bulletin of the Academy of Sciences of the u.s.s.R., 1947, 
vol. IV, pp. 355-372; by the same author: Sovietskaya archeologiya Sibiri perioda 
metalla, vdi, 1938, i. 


popularize in its various stages. 68 We ourselves have held in 
our hands, through the courtesy of Mr C. T. Loo, two bronze 
pieces in the round, the one representing a goat, the other a 
hemione standing, feet together, ready to leap. The grainy rough- 
ness of the bronze and the eyes of die two animals inlaid with 
turquoise immediately suggested to us that their source was An- 
yang, whence O. Karlbeck assured us he had seen similar pieces 
exhumed. 69 Clearly we have here one of the animal themes that 
subsequently became characteristic of the art of the steppes. The 
latest works of Kiselev, describing the bronze battle axes of 
Karasuk, with animal motifs (animals still heavy, low on their 
feet, their noses dragging on the ground), and the sculptured 
stone steles of Karasuk with human faces in the manner of 
Chinese t'ao-t'ieh, do in fact show the Shang art of An-yang 
and, secondarily, the art of the early Chou period, to be the 
inspirers of the Siberian art of the Minusinsk region in the 
Karasuk phase. Bronzes of the Karasuk type (flat axes, etc.), 
likewise inspired by An-yang art, also begin to appear in Suiyuan 
in Inner Mongolia towards the end (according to Kiselev's esti- 
mate) of the Shang- Yin period and at the beginning of the reign 
of the Chou. 70 

A Regression: the Period of the Western Chou 

In 1027, according to Professor Karlgrens new rectified chro- 
nology, the Shang dynasty was overthrown by a third royal house, 

68 See Karlgren, Weapons and Tools of the Yin Dynasty, in Bulletin of the 
Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm, no. 17, 1945, p. 144, pis. 28-38. 
Minkenhof, Some Bronze Knives from Ancient China in American Collections, 
in: Phoenix, v, 2, Amsterdam, March 1948, p. 47; also the works of Kiselev 
referred to in the previous note. 

* Grousset, Nouvelles Vues sur l'Art des Steppes, in Beaux- Arts, May 15, 

w Kiselev, Histoire Ancienne de la Sibirie Miridionale, p. 105 (and the com- 
mentary that M. Roman Ghirshman has been good enough to provide). See also, 
in connection with Kiselev's book, Karl Jettmar's important article, The Karasuk 


that of the Chou. The Shang, as we have seen, reigned over the 
rich alluvial lands of northern Honan, over that garden of 
China — the 'Chinese Touraine— where dynasties have since then 
so often reached their apogee and, through a laxity born of their 
wealth, caused their own downfall. The Chou, on the contrary, 
were the rude lords of a frontier march, that of the Wei valley, 
in what is today Shensi. These hardy pioneers, these land-tilling 
soldiers (one of their divinities, as we have seen, was Hou-chi, 
'Prince Millet'), toughened by their perpetual struggles to 'make 
land* and defend it against the barbarians, flung themselves in 
1027 on the Shang royal domain, wiped out tie dynasty and 
replaced it. From 1027 to 771, they nevertheless kept their re- 
sidence in their native Shensi. Only in 770, following a revolt of 
the lords, accompanied by a raid of barbarians, did they transfer 
their seat from this frontier march to the more central lands of 
Honan, where their capital, until their disappearance about 250 
B.C., was the city of Lo-yang, which has since been so famous. 
There can be no doubt that the victory of the Chou over the 
Shang in 1027 brought in its wake, if not a total regression, at 
least an arrest of Chinese material civilization. As far as art is 
concerned, there is in any case a definite slowing-up. 71 Not for 
a long time, to our knowledge, do we again come upon the 'great' 
sculpture on stone in the round that had achieved such power 
in the Shang marble pieces. Sculpture as such was not to reappear 
until much later, in the time of the Han, with the horse of Ho 
Ch'ii-ping (117 B.C.), not to mention the funerary terra cottas 
of the same epoch. As for the ritual bronze vases, they continue 
for some time to imitate the Shang themes, and this is what 
Karlgren calls the Yin-Chou transitional style that he situates 

Culture and its South-Eastern Affinities, in B.M.F.E.A., Stockholm, no. 22, 1S>50, 
pp. 83-126 (including bibliography, pp. 123-126). 

71 Creel calls attention to the cessation of creative activity that is already 
manifest if one compares the An-yang vases with those of Hsiin-hsien, centre of 
excavations situated in the same region, south of An-yang, and dating from the 
beginning of the Chou period. 


between the end of the eleventh century and the middle of the 
tenth; then a new style appears, which Karlgren designates as 
Middle Chou and which would very approximately be dated as 
being between 950 and 650 B.C. 72 

The Chou period appears to have had a predilection for 
certain types of vases, in particular the tsun, a tall bronze jar 
in three sections (spreading base, convex belly, calix-shaped neck) 
that sometimes affects a square construction like the famous 
fang-tsun of the Freer Gallery. 73 The kuei, low, very deep urns 
supported on a round or square base and provided with side 
handles, generally in the form of animals (dragon heads), a type 
already favoured in Shang times, continue under the Chou with 
large specimens having a simplified, powerful and crude decor. 74 
In the 'Middle Chou* style, properly speaking, new forms appear, 
in particular the / vase, a kind of 'sauce-boat* without a cover, 
in a form resembling an ox, the lip sometimes in the form of 
the head of a bull lowing, while the four legs are bovine in 
appearance and the handle ends in the head of a dragon or fe- 
line leaping on the animal's croup. 75 

In the same vein, but here fully worked out in the round, 
may be noted the two bronzes in the Freer Gallery, deriving from 
Shensi and representing two tigers. 76 These are also vases (the 
animal is hollow, with an opening in the back), but entirely 
zoomorphic. The two wild creatures are treated with a direct 
realism, standing ready to leap, the tail whipping. In profile, 
their outline has an arresting vigour. Full face, the feline head, 
with its fierce snout, its open mouth revealing 'saw teeth', its 
'machaerodous daggers', its flaming eyes, creates the same halluc- 

n Karlgren, New Studies on Chinese Bronzes, b.m.f.e.a., 9, Stockholm, 
1937, p. 2. 

73 Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes. Freer Gallery, 1946, p. 18. 

74 Freer Gallery, pi. 28. 

78 / of the Louvre, now in the Guimet Museum, studied in Involution des 
Bronzes Chinois Archatques, Cernuschi Museum, 1937, p. 53, fig. 26. 
76 Freer Gallery, Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes, 1946, pis. 26 and 27. 

«IIS£ 5 i^V£' ■ ;v' ,v v;.;' "-: ■/■?: ^"<s^ £ -•* ■ ■ " 

10. Ceremonial vessel, type huo, bronze. Early Chou Dynasty or 
earlier. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 

11. Wine can, type hu, bronze. Yin or Early CUou Dynasty. Minne- 
apolis Institute of Arts. 


inatory impression as the most powerful t'aoJieh. The Middle 
Chou ornamentation, simple and crude also, effectively suggests 
the stripes of the hide. Such pieces, rare and perhaps exceptional 
though they be, nevertheless prove that sculpture in the round, 
forgotten in marble, was perpetuated by the bronze-founders. 

The Middle Chou style is noteworthy also for the abundance 
of its bells {chung) y which were of great ceremonial importance. 77 

A great number of Shang motifs disappear in Middle Chou, 
particularly among the various categories of dragons. The t'ao- 
t'ieh mask Abandons its prominent place on the flank of vases 
and, now barely recognizable, appears only on their base or at 
the points at which their base or legs are attached. It is only 
on the handles that heads of monsters in the round are to be 
seen, and the almost total disappearance of any animal orna- 
mentation gives to these added force and expression*. The same 
revolution appears in technical processes: 'a flat relief, standing 
out against the bare background, replaces the contrasting effects 
of high relief and fine engraving*. 

Middle Chou ornamentation is also characterized by a number 
of innovations : horns in the form of spirals on the animals that 
decorate the handles and the covers; dragons placed back to 
back; strips of horizontal shells or shells hung vertically on 
the body or the base of the vase, or else shells turned upward 
and surrounding the neck of the vase; a wavy line running round 
the body of the vase (the replacement of the spiral by waves 
is indeed one of the distinctive features of this artistic revolu- 
tion); parallel vertical lines or strokes standing out against an 
unornamented background; a wide band decorated with conven- 
tional motifs, often of dragons quite remote from any animal 
prototype and repeated in rather monotonous geometric patterns. 
On the whole, these motifs, which are in fact much more rigidly 

" Granet has clearly shown 'the associative links that the Chinese myths 
make it possible to establish between bells, drums, dragons, thunder'. Cf. Granet, 
Danses et Ugendes, pp. 504, 509, 527, 577. 



geometrical than those of the Shang, are rather heavy and poor. 
At best it may be noted that this rigid and dry art assumes at 
times a truly architectural and even monumental character, as in 
the large seventy-seven centimetre hu with a cover in the Guimet 
Museum. 78 

This same impression of both heaviness and impoverish- 
ment matches the c culturar regression that we pointed out as 
a consequence of the coming of the Chou. These warriors of the 
north-west marches were obviously backward in comparison with 
the rich Shang civilization that they had destroyed. Proof of this 
is to be found in their political behaviour. Instead of establishing 
themselves in the beautiful plains of Honan that they had just 
conquered they remained, as we have seen, for 257 years (1027- 
770), confined to their frontier-march of the Wei valley, retain- 
ing as their capital the ancient city of Hao, near present-day 
Sianfu. Only in 770, as we also saw, following a barbarian raid, 
did they decide to transfer their capital to Honan, choosing Lo- 
yang, where they quickly fell into decadence. The great feudal 
houses that divided Chinese territory among themselves became 
practically independent. From 325 B.C. the most powerful of 
these provincial dynasties assumed the royal title. The only su- 
periority left to the legitimate king of the house of Chou who, 
for all his Lo-yang palaces, was king in name only, lay in his 
religious offices. Despite his political impotence, he remained 
the Son of Heaven (Tien-tzu), recipient of the heavenly mandate, 
high pontiff of the agrarian religion, as of the worship of an- 
cestors, hence the only one qualified to maintain harmony be- 
tween Earth and Heaven, and by virtue of this fact relatively 
respected as religious chief of the Chinese Confederation. 

This Confederation was torn by feudal wars, which grew 

78 Osvald Siren, A History of Early Chinese Art, London, 1928, pi. liv. 
Georges Salles, Bronzes Chinois, Exposition de I'Orangerie, 1934, no. 282, p. 168, 
&g. 18. Grousset and Demoulin-Bernard, L Evolution des Bronzes Chinois Ar- 
chcuques, Exposition du Mush Cernuschi, 1937, p. 52 and pi. IX, fig. 24. 


increasingly violent and increasingly frequent, so that the period 
extending from 481 to 221 B.C. came to be known as the age 
of the Warring States (Chankuo). 79 

It should be pointed out that at this time the Chinese Con- 
federation, beneath the theoretical sway of the Chou kings, barely 
extended beyond the basin of the Yellow River and the associated 
rivers (Pei-ho, Huai-ho). The Yangtze basin remained outside the 
Chinese domain, even though it was undoubtedly inhabited by 
tribes related to the Chinese nation, differing from the Chinese 
people only in the backward character of their culture. Never- 
titleless two of these tribes, established respectively on the nor- 
thern bank of the middle Yangtze (the present province of 
Hupei) 80 and at the very mouth of the river, 81 spontaneously 
sinicized themselves under the influence and through the example 
of Chinese civilization. When at last (in 224 B.C.) the northern 
Yangtze basin was finally annexed by the Chinese of the North 
(that is to say by the original China), it had in practice already 
been Sinicized for a long time. 82 

TO According to Karlgren, the 'style of the Warring States' (which, as we 
shall see, he calls the Huai style) may be considered to extend from 650 to 200 B.C., 
approximately (Karlgren, New Studies on Chinese Bronzes, B.M.F.E.A., 9, Stock- 
holm, 1937, p. 5). 

80 Kingdom of Ch'u. 

* Kingdom of Wu. 

82 As for Szechwan, it must have followed the same evolution, but at an even 
slower rate. Mr Cheng Te-k'un has just published a series of objects recently 
discovered in Tai-p'ing-ch'ang, to the north of Chengtu. These include tools that 
are still eneolithic, bearing the symbols of heaven and earth, pi and tsung, in 
sandstone or jade, yuan jade rings, knives (yen-kuei) of jade ranging from dark 
grey-green to a neutral grey (knives, as we know, were generally regarded as 
scepters, the symbol of sovereign power), 'pearls' of jade, turquoise or diorite 
(similar to the ones that Andersson had discovered in Sha-kuo-tun), r*//-axes 
and 'chisels' in stone, and finally a pottery of two categories: a red one with 
'corded' de"cor and a grey one, the latter being similar to the black pottery of 
Northern China in the so-called 'Ch'eng-tzu-yai ii' stage, situated between 1200 
and 500 B.C. Dr Cheng Te-k'un concludes that the eneolithic tool-making of 
Szechwan might also go back to approximately 1200-700. It is interesting to note 
that this culture of an outlying province is already Chinese. But it remains obviously 


The Civilization of the 'Warring States 9 : Art 

Chinese historians distinguish two great periods in the time 
of the Eastern Chou. The first is called the 'period of Spring 
and Autumn' Ctfun-ch'iu), from the name of old annals thus 
designated that cover the years from 722 to 481 B.C. The second 
period, as we have seen, is the so called 'period of the Warring 
States 1 (Chan-kuo) and extends from 481 to 221. The testimony 
of archaeology during these two periods is highly important for 
our knowledge of Chinese society. In the art of bronze, in par- 
ticular, a wholly new style then develops, which, already in 
evidence from ihe middle of the seventh century, becomes not- 
iceable from the middle of the sixth and continues to the end 
of the third century. Swedish archeologists call it the 'Huai 
Style', because several of the most characteristic pieces (bronzes 
with a water-green patina) have been discovered in the basin 
of the Huai river, particularly in the vicinity of Shou Chou 
(province of Anhwei), as well as in Ku-shih.-hsien (in south- 
eastern Honan) and in Hsin-cheng (south-west of Kaifeng, in 
Honan). 83 'Art of the Warring States' is more generally used, 
even though this style, as we have just seen, seems to have begun 
as early as the middle of the sixth century, or before the historic 
period properly known as that of the 'Warring States' (481-221) 
and must have continued during the brief period of the Ch'in 
empire (221-207). This appellation, in our view, is all the more 
appropriate as bronzes of rather similar style have been found 

backward in relation to the North-Chinese civilization of the same epoch, at the 
time of the Western Chou. Cheng Te-k'un, The Tai-p'ing-ch'ang Culture, Hsieh- 
ta Journal of Chinese Studies, vol. I, pp. 67-81, pis. 1-4, Foochow, Fukien Christian 
University, 1949. 

88 See Pelliot, A propos des Bronzes de Sin-tcheng, in Toung-pao 9 1924, 
pp. 255-259. O. Janse, Le style du Houai et ses Affinitfe, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, 
vni, 3, 1934, pp. 159-182. Karlbeck, Catalogue of the Collection of Chinese and 
Korean Bronzes at Hallwyl House, Stockholm, 1938, pp. 14 ff. 


at great distances from the Huai, in particular in Li-yii, in north- 
eastern Shansi. 84 

As to the dates of the style in question, we have points of 
reference which seem to be fairly precise. One of the Hsin-cheng 
vases, found in conjunction with a circular gold plaque which is 
clearly 'Warring States', belongs, according to its inscription, to 
575 B.C. 85 The inscribed piao bells, found in Chin-ts'un (within 
the walls of ancient Lo-yang) and reproduced, notably by White 
among others, can be presumed to be from 550 (in tombs that 
can be dated, according to Karlgren, between 450 and 230 B.C.) 80 

The style of the so-called 'Warring States' bronzes, after the 
Middle Chou regression, marks a reawakening of the Chinese 
creative genius. Middle Chou ornamentation had been distin- 
guished by its rigidity, its static appearance, its impoverishment, 
its heaviness. In the ornamentation of the 'Warring States' there 
is once again that sense of movement that imparts animation 
to the motifs so that they seem to dance, to be literally moving. 

84 On the Li-yii bronzes which, thanks to Mr Georges Salles, are today in 
the Guimet Museum, see Salles, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, vin, 3, pp. 146-159; 
also Freer Gallery, Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes, 1946, p. 58, pi. 31. On Li-yii 
in historic geography, see the study by Shikalo Mori, appended to Umehara, 
Etude des Bronzes des Royaumes Combattants, Toho-Bunka Gakuin, Kyoto Ken- 
kyusho, 7, 1936. On the acquisition of an important group of Li-yii bronzes by 
the national museums (now in the Guimet Museum), see Vandier Nicolas, Le 
Trevor de Li-yii, Bulletin des Musies de France, March 1935, p. 37, in which 
Mme Vandier-Nicolas shows the affinities of Li-yii art (animals in the round, 
braid motif, etc.) with the animal (Hunnish) art of the steppes. We must not 
forget that Li-yii lies close to Tatung, in the extreme north of Shansi, then a real 
frontier-march in contact with the Huns who occupied Chahar, Suiyuan, and the 
Ordos. If ■Ordos' influence could penetrate Chinese art anywhere, it was certainly 
in this region. 

* See Andersson, Goldsmiths in Ancient China, in b.m.f.e.a., Stockholm, 
1935, p. 23. 

* See Karlgren, b.m.f.e.a., Stockholm, 10, 1938, pp. 65-82. Reproductions 
of the piao bells of Chin-ts'un in White, Tombs of Old Loyang, pis. CLXVU-Clxk, 
figs. 501-502. On the Chin-ts'un finds, likewise works by Umehara, Die alte Gr'dber 
in An-yang und Chin-ts'un, Shigakuzasshi (Zeitscrift fur Geschichtswissenschaft), 
vol. 47, no. 9, Tokyo, September 1939; also, Selections from the Ancient Tombs 
at Chin-ts'un^ Kyoto, 1937. 


Everything dances: the volutes and the spirals, the plaits, the 
interlacings, cords, dots and criss-crosses — 'engraved or in faint 
relief like a delicate embroidery* on the surfaces of the vases, 
where inlaid gold and silver, turquoise and malachite replace the 
former contrasts in relief. In harmony with this new 'grammar 
of motifs' the t'ao-t'ieh masks, decomposed into their elements, 
are now often no more than a festooning of hooks and spirals, 
producing a curious effect of swarming. The same impression of 
dancing is given by the small inter-crossing dragons or serpents, in 
some cases several times interlaced, and which seem to pivot 
round one upon the other, which are so frequently found in this 
style of ornamentation. 87 A special predilection is in fact shown 
not only for dragons but also for other fantastic animals (hy- 
dras, etc.) or animals deformed to the point of becoming fantastic 
(serpents, tigers, birds). Moreover, in many cases only the heads 
make it possible to guess the original animal, even though these 
heads themselves are often nearly unrecognizable: 'a crested bird 
with upcurved beak, a tiger whose snout and jaw describe a 
double inverted spiral, a dragon with a triangular face like a 
snake's'. There is, besides, frequent transference of one motif 
to another:* winged dragons, winged tigers, crested tigers, tigers 
with feathered tufts, tigers with bird-claws. More fantastic still, 
a single body has a head at each end, one of a dragon the other 
of a bird'. 88 

87 The specimen par excellence of this aspect of the style of the 'Warring 
States' is, perhaps the famous chiselled gold hilt from the former Eumorfopoulos 
Collection, now in the British Museum, with its swarm of small interlaced dragons 
(Siren, History of Early Chinese Art, pi. 92 b); or else the no less famous tut 
bronze vase of this same collection, with its ornamentation likewise consisting in 
a multitude of serpent-shaped dragons interlaced, which seem literally to writhe 
about upon one another, as though we were looking at an arabesque of live 
reptiles. (Siren, op. cit., I, pi. 55); or the circle of gold-leaf found in Hsin-cheng 
(Honan) with the same interlacings of serpents (Andersson, Goldsmiths in Ancient 
China, in Yin and Chou Researches, B.M.F.E.A., Stockholm, 1935, p. 22 and pi. 
XVII). On the Hsin-cheng discoveries, see also : Sung Hai-p'o, Hsin cheng i ch'i 
(Illustrated Catalogue of the Bronzes found in Hsin-cheng), Kaifeng, 1937; and 
Yetts, The Cull Chinese Bronzes, London, 1939, pp. 48, 50, 51, 105. 

88 David, Ecole du Louvre thesis on the jades in the Guimet Museum. 


Even the motif of braiding, so regular and heavy in the 
middle Chou period, is carried away by the dancing rhythm of 
the other motifs. The dragons that rise in the round on the vases 
or on top of bells (the two elegant dragons face to face that 
surmount the famous 'Stoclet bell') 89 , or those that run in a simple 
filiform design on the mirrors, are animated by a similar move- 
ment. f However fantastic and unreal they may be', writes Daisy 
Lion-Goldschmidt, 'they have a movement, a tension, that confer 
upon them a quivering power of life and reality'. On a number 
of our mirrors (Freer Gallery, Stockholm Museum), 90 the dra- 
gons, half lizard and half imp, dance in such frenzied spinning, 
with such freedom, such fancifulness, that they leap into the air 
with a speed that the eye can barely follow. At times the elegant 
play of moving lines that has brought them into being is lost in 
a whirl of scrolls and arabesques, in a flight of spirals, in a 
spinning play of curves in which only the apparition, here and 
there, of a delicate dragon's head allows us to recognize the fan- 
tastic animal that has served as a pretext for the whole. 91 This 
ornamentation that the Chinese call p'an-ch'e (from p'an 'inter- 
laced', and ch'e 'dragon without horns'), characterizes the whole 
style of the 'Warring States'. 

The same fantasy is to be found in the very elongated dragons 
whose tails end in scrolls that form the most elegant of the 
bronze clasps of the 'Warring States'. Rarely has a decorative 
theme achieved such virtuosity in sheer fantasy. However, as 
Madeleine David observes, this fantasy which appears so untram- 
melled is governed by a secret law: the law of rhythm. A single 
rhythm animates the twists and interlacing of motifs, balances 
the curves by counter-curves, the volutes by counter-volutes, and 

89 Salles, Bronzes Chinois, Orangerie, 1934, p. 206, no. 396 and fig. 30. 
A similar bell is at the Amis de l'Orient d' Amsterdam; Otto Kummel, Georg 
Triibner zum Gedachtnis, 1930, pis. 26-29. 

90 Siren, History of Early Chinese Art, pi. 84 b. 

91 Freer Cillery % Catalogue of Chinese Bronzes, 1946, pi. 36. 



thus through the balancing of the forms and the movement of 
the lines maintains a permanent principle of unity. 92 

It should be noted that the theme of intertwined animals is 
one of the favourite motifs of the art of the steppes. Its fre- 
quency on the Chinese bronzes of the 'Warring Sates* is fresh 
proof of the link between the Hunnish world and the China of 
the fifth to the third centuries. 03 

As for the ornamentation in this art of the 'Warring 
States', it is primarily composed, as we said, of the most 
diverse variations on the theme of the spiral. A whole 'grammar 
of the spiral* of the 'Warring States' could be worked out, as 
a 'grammar of the arabesque' has been established for Moslem 
art. 'Rounded or angular', Madeleine David notes, 'the spirals 
undulate in s's, fold into t's or l's, form heart-shapes or geo- 
metrical compositions. Sometimes simply inverted, they also over- 
lap, forming ladder-like patterns that are endlessly repeated. Or 
they may be accompanied by a line with a sharp angle, forming 
the motif of the volute and the triangle'. 94 

* * * 

Special attention must be given to the bronze mirrors, the 
study of which has enabled Professor Karlgren to distinguish in 
the ornamentation of the 'Warring States' as we have roughly 

" This was to become clear when the Ming archeologists attempted to copy 
the bronzes of the 'Warring States'. No matter how precisely all the archaic 
motifs were reproduced, they remained scattered and lifeless, for the rhythm 
that alone animated them was not recaptured. 

93 Cf. Anna Roes, Tierwirbel, Ipek n, Berlin, 1936-1937, pp. 85-105. Josef 
Zykan, Die verschlungenen Drachen, Artibus Asiae, vm, 1937, p. 178. T. G. Frisch, 
Scythian Art and some Chinese Parallels, Oriental Art, n, London 1949, pp. 16-24 
and 57-67. 

M Excellent sketches of the various 'Warring States' (or Huai) motifs will 
be found in the album Selected Chinese Antiquities from the Collection of Gustaf 
Adolf, Crown-Prince of Sweden, Stockholm, 1948, pp. 27-39. 

12. Ceremonial vessel, type li-ting, bronze. Early Chott Dynasty. 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 


is sometimes composed of a kind of large trefle cross or of an 
octagonal festooned star. The mirrors classified by Karlgren in 
category E come from the Huai basin and he dates them between 
250 and 200 B.C. The background is composed of the same ele- 
ments as in the preceding series, but here reduced to such a tight 
network that it is often nearly indecipherable. The ornamenta- 
tion that stands out against this background evokes to the prac- 
ticed eye the circles of elongated dragons described a moment 
ago, but here unrecognizable, having been reduced to a geo- 
metry of arabesques, spirals and scrolls that blossom forth into 
beaks, hooks, tendrils, buds and c aces of spades' or are cut by 
unexpected zigzags. 97 

On several bronze mirrors of the 'Warring States' (in the 
Moriya collection, of Kyoto, in particular), on several bronze 
clasps of the same period (in the Coiffard collection), as on se- 
veral sword guards, tubes and spear-ends, chariot studs and orna- 
ments, the inlaid enamel, turquoise, malachite and lacquer, the 
gold or silver damascening, add even further, by the richness 
of the precious materials and the play of colours, to the quality 
of the object, to the point of making it a real jewel. 98 

There are also, in particular in the Moriya collection, mirrors 
that are both lacquered and painted in bright colours, among 

97 As an aid to deciphering a motif of this kind and discovering the continuity 
of the dragon's body beneath the wild fancifulness of the scrolls, see Karlgren' s 
diagrams, Huai and Han, b.m.f.e.a., Stockholm, 13, 1941, pp. 82-84. 

M See Solange Lemaitre, Les Agrafes de la Collection Cbiffard, Revue des 
Arts Asiatiques, September 1936, p. 132. Minkenhof, An Exihibition of Chinese 
Belt Buckles in America, Oriental Art i, 4, London, 1949, p. 161. Also the 
admirable reproductions in the Selected Chinese Antiquities from the Collection 
of Gustav Adolf, Crown-Prince of Sweden, 1948-1949, pi. 28. On the Jacques Orcel 
sword in the Cernuschi Museum, see Vandier-Nicolas, Nouvelles Acquisitions 
du Mus6e Cernuschi, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, viii, 3, p. 194, pi. 64. On the 
weapons of the 'Warring States' or of the Han, see Janse, 'Epees Anciennes 
Retrouvees en Chine', b.m.f.e.a., Stockholm, 2, 1930, p. 67* On relationships 
between the sword of the 'Warring States* or the Han with the Scytho-Siberian 
and Ordos swords, see Loehr, The Earliest Chinese Swords and the Akinakes, in 
Oriental Art, no. 3, 1948, p. 132. 


which red, blue and white predominate, which give us an idea 
of the refined luxury of the 'Warring States'. The late Shang 
period conveyed the same impression of luxury. In this respect, 
as in creative spontaneity, the two periods link up with each 
other across the colourlessness of the Middle Chou style. 

These apart, some of the bronzes inlaid with threads and 
designs of gold, silver and, secondarily, of turquoise and mala- 
chite, found in the Lo-yang region of Honan, and which W. C. 
White hesitated to date, rightly appear to Andersson to belong 
partly to the style we have just been studying." This is an identi- 
fication of great consequence which shows among other things that 
the regularity of the Han inlaid decor already appeared under the 
'Warring States'. The same is true, according to Andersson, of 
the similar geometric ornamentation in red and black lacquer 
that adorns the wooden reinforcements for bronze masks found 
in Ku-wei-tsun, near Hui-hsien in northern Honan. 100 Thus we 
here already have a manifestation of the geometrical designs of 
the Han, as we shall find them on the Han lacquers of the Korean 
district of Lolang. 

Finally, numerous jades reveal the style of the 'Warring Sta- 
tes' by the very fantasy that their ornamentation exhibits. As 
Madeleine David observes, these jades no longer appear to be 
wholly dominated by ritual requirements. They are more in the 
nature of ornaments. The cosmic symbols pi (heaven) and tsung 
(earth) are henceforth frequently covered with an attractive d&or 
of grains, spirals or checkerwork. Alongside these traditional 
objects, we find clasps and sword ornaments (pommel tips or 
sheath buckles) chiselled in jade, all of them objects imitated 
from similar pieces in bronze. Numerous small jades represent 
fantastic or fantastically treated animals (dragons, hydras, tigers, 

" W. Ch. White, Tombs of old Loyang, Shanghai, 1934. Andersson, The 
Goldsmiths in Ancient China, p. 34. 
m Andersson, /. r., p. 17, pi. xvi. 



birds) that we know from the 'Warring States' bronzes. Here 
too the ornamentation consists in infinite variations on the spiral 

* * * 

Presenting an almost complete contrast to these stylistic or 
decorative inventions, we find on the lids of bronze vases of the 
'Warring States' (more precisely, the vases from Li-yii, in the 
Guimet Museum) representations of animals in the round (ti- 
gers, bulls, etc.) of a remarkable realism. This simultaneous 
emergence of animal realism and of treatment in the round — ap- 
pearing quite unheralded and yet already fully developed — is a 
combination of tendencies that appears to go against the trend 
towards fantastic stylization that we noted a moment ago, and 
announces a return to sculpture — a genre that seems to have been 
forgotten since the fall of the Shang. 101 But the resemblance of 
these same animal statuettes (which are almost entirely inde- 
pendent of the bronze to which they are riveted) to the small 
Ordos bronzes raises the question as to whether this return to 
the round is not due, at least in part, to the influence of the 

The Han funerary terra cottas, representing various animals, 
are in the tradition of this animal art, so free, so spontaneous, and 

301 Prudence, however, forbids too affirmative a statement as to this. In the 
Pillsbury collection, at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, for example, there is a 
recumbent buffalo in bronze which is clearly of the Middle Chou period, even 
though it undoubtedly once surmounted some ritual vase; and this is practically a 
carving in the round. ( See the Exhibition of Chinese Bronzes, Metropolitan 
Museum, New York, October-November 1938, fig. 146 of the catalogue.) And 
can we not say that the three famous zoomorph bronzes of the Chou period in 
the Freer Gallery, one of which represents an elephant and the other two tigers, 
are magnificent specimens of sculpture in the round? (Freer Gallery, Catalogue of 
Chinese Bronzes, Washington, 1946, pis. 24 and 26). On the animal bronzes in 
the round used as lampstands under the Eastern Chou, and in the 'Warring States' 
or Han periods, see Maude Rex Allen, Early Chinese Lamps, in Oriental Art, n, 
4, London, 1950, pp. 133-140. 


becoming less and less clumsy, which is found on the 'Warring 
States' bronzes. In addition, the bull fighting, the hunting scenes 
(naked archers or hunters armed with swords, fighting stags or 
wild beasts) as well as the fantastic anthropomorphic or animal 
figures that decorate in flat relief certain bronze vases also of 
the 'Warring States' period, prepare the way, as we shall see 
later, for the Han period, in particular for similar scenes in the 
Han funerary reliefs of Shantung and Honan. 1 * 02 While men- 
tioning these vases, let us note the fantastic birds that are 
sometimes found on them (in particular on certain hu vases) and 
the no less fantastic creatures that hunt them, from which we 
may infer that such hunting scenes had primarily a magic signi- 

The style of the 'Warring States' (in particular in the bronzes 
of Li-yii, a site very close to the ancient Hunnish camps of Sui- 
yiian) shows, as we said, numerous analogies with the art of the 
steppes of the same period, and in particular with that of Inner 
Mongolia (Ordos district and Sui-yiian, Chahar and Jehol pro- 
vinces), an art usually called 'Ordos art' and which, according to 
Karlgren, must have reached its height in the fourth to third 
centuries B.C. 1,03 What we have here is a branch of the animal 
art, more or less stylized, which was common to various Hunnish 
(and more generally, Altaic) tribes established not only in Inner 
Mongolia but also in Upper Mongolia and in Siberia as well, 
in particular in the Minusinsk depression. The latest Soviet ex> 

,w Hu vase of the Stoclet collection, David-Weill bronzes, etc. 

10J For dates, see Karlgren, New Studies on Chinese Bronzes, in Bulletin of 
Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, no. 9, Stockholm, 1937 (Ordos and Huai, 
p. 108). Outside the Ordos 'Ordos' bronzes have chiefly been found in Hallong- 
hosso and in Hattin-sum in Chahar, in Hsuan-hua near Kalgan, and in Luan-p'ing 
in Jehol. See T. J. Arne, Die Funde von Luan-p'ing und Huan-hua, in b.m.f.e.a., 
Stockholm, v, 1933, p. 166. Griessmaier, Entwickelungsfragen der Ordos-Kunst, 
in Arbibus Asiae, vii, 1-4, Leipzig, 1937, p. 122. There is also a good summary 
in the small Guide to the Exihibition of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 
Stockholm, September 1933. 


cavations, as described by Professor Kiselev, have brought to light 
a cultural stage around Minusinsk, succeeding that of Karasuk 
and continuing it: the Tagar Culture, which Kiselev situates be- 
tween 700 and 100 B.C., with two periods, the first from 700 to 
400, the second from 400 to 100 — the first one of 'pure bronze', 
the second marked by the introduction of iron in the fifth century. 
In the Tagar period the Siberian, so-called Minusinsk, bronzes 
(knives, axes, even mirrors) reveal a continuous evolution of this 
animal art. The heavy, lumbering creatures of the Karasuk style 
are succeeded by animals (bears, lynxes, tigers, cervidae, ibexes, 
boars, etc.) which give an astonishing impression of rapid move- 
ment and are intensely dynamic and alive, and yet which already 
show a tendency towards stylization (heraldic symbolism, fitting 
of animals into a circular 'rose' form, animals 'welded' to one 
smother, paws, nails, claws or hooves of animals ending in curls 
and spirals), and of being adapted as motifs for the open-work 
bronze plaques that were coming in. 104 In the second Tagar per- 
iod (from approximately 400 B.C.), deer and ibex appear among 
our bronzes, their heads turned back over their shoulders, hooves 
joined (so that the animal almost appears to be lying down). 
Now these various motifs (deer in 'recumbent gallop', coiled 
animals, open-work plaques) pass, according to Kiselev, from 
Tagar art over to Ordos art, then to the so-called Huai art. The 
fierce beast flinging itself upon a member of the deer or horse 
family etc., presumably originates in Tagar, whence the motif 
would have passed over to the Ordos, then also to the China of 
the 'Warring States'. 105 

"* On the coilings and 'whirlings of animals', see Anna Roes, Tierwirbel, 
in Ipek t vol. II, Berlin, 1936-37, p. 85. 

305 Ancient History of Southern Siberia (Drevnaya Istoriya Juzhnoy Sibiri) 
In Materials and Research on the Archaeology of the u.S.S.R. (Materiali i isledo- 
vaniya po arkheologiya s.s.s.R.), no. 9 (1949), pp. 108-176. (The reader is re- 
minded of another work by Kiselev, The Tagar Culture, Publications of the Sayan 
Expedition, IV [Sektsii Arkheologii, R.A.N.I.D.N., iv], Moscow, 1928, pp. 257-264). 
For the western area of the art of the steppes, the latest Soviet discoveries are 


The reports of the latest Soviet excavations in the Minusinsk 
region thus enable us to establish the following suppositions: 

1) The 'animal' art of the Minusinsk region, still at the 
stammering stage in the Karasuk period (1200-700) derives from 
the Chinese art of An-yang. 

2) By a reverse movement, the Ordos (and Sui-yiian, etc.) 
'animal' art, much more highly elaborated, was influenced by 
the Siberian art of the Minusinsk region, in the Tagar period 
(700-100 B.C.), and Ordos art in turn then influenced the Chinese 
art of the Warring States. 106 

Comparison of the 'Warring States' bronzes and the Ordos 
bronzes will undoubtedly make it possible to date the latter more 
exactly, but meanwhile the chronology is still far from certain. 
For the Ordos weapons, for example, Max Loehr places some 
of the daggers, of the akinakes type, between the eighth and 
fifth centuries B.C., and another series (daggers with hilts "in a 
circle' and 'roof-type' guards) between the eighth and seventh 
centuries, still other series (which would be contemporaneous 
with Anino in the steppes and Chin-chuan in China) between 
the sixth and the third, while T. J. Arne has the Luan-p'ing and 
Hsiian-hua Ordos bronzes begin only about 350 B.C. 107 

Since the dawn of history the Altaic peoples — in particular 
the Huns, ancestors of the Turko-Mongolians of today— had 
been the neighbours and sworn enemies of China. To the agri- 
cultural Chinese they seemed to represent the very essence of 
barbarism. Against these nomad herdsmen, the mobility of whose 

set forth in the following works: Rudenko, Histoire des Scythes de I' Altai, 
Pushkin Museum, 1949; Franz Hancar, L' Elargissement de nos Perspectives 
Historiques par les Recherches Pr£historiques Sovittiques, in the review Coup d'oeil 
& PEst, fasc. II, 1/2, Jan.-June 1949, pp. 37-63, (Halstatto-Gmmerian relations, 
Scythian origins, etc., with Soviet bibliography brought up to date). P. Schultz, 
New Archaeological Discoveries in the Crimea, in the review Voks y no. 55, Moscow, 
1948, p. 59. 

m Kiselev, Histoire Ancienne de la Sibirie meWidionale, pp. 108-176. 

307 Loehr, Ordos Daggers and Knives, New Material, Classification and Chro- 
nology, i, Daggers, Artibus Asiae f xii, 1949, pp. 23-83. 


mounted archers made them formidable, the Chinese armies, 
still equipped only with heavy chariots, were often at a disad- 
vantage. But in 307 B.C., in order to fight them on equal terms, 
they in turn created a cavalry. By the same token, the Chinese 
directly borrowed from the Huns a part of their equipment, in 
particular the bronze ornaments and buckles. With these buckles 
and plaques (as we can verify by the pieces in the CoifFard Col- 
lection being shown in the Cernuschi Museum) we find a number 
of motifs spreading through China that were directly taken over 
from Ordos art or influenced by it. 10s The main body of several 
of the buckles in our collections is formed by a single wolf or 
hind such as those found in the art of the steppes; other buckles 
are composed of animals interlaced, entangled, devouring one 
another or issuing from one another, or of an 'animal network', 
a theme common to the so-called Minusinsk bronzes (Tagar pe- 
riod) and to those of the Ordos. 

We may note, moreover, that, as Solange Lemaitre points 
out, it is possible that on the clasps or buckles of the 'Warring 
States' the animal-type or fantastic theme may vary in China itself, 
according to region. It is possible that on the buckles originating 
in the provinces of the lower Yangtze (the Huai region, properly 
speaking), the head of an elephant (an animal then prevalent 
in South China) replaces the fao-t'ieh head, the latter motif 
being perhaps more confined to North China, the original home 
of Chinese culture. 1 " 09 

We shall call attention, finally, to works having a style so local 
as to be positively alien, which have been revealed by the Ch'ang- 
sha discoveries in Hunan. no Hunan, in the period of the 'War- 

** Lemaitre, Les Agrafes Chinoises jusqu'a la Fin de TEpoque Han, Revue 
des Arts Asiatiques, vol. x, 1939, Cf . Tosio Nagahiro, Die Agraffe und ibre Stellung 
in der altcbinesiscben Kunstgescbicbte, Kyoto, 1943. 

w Lemaitre, vol. x, 3, p. 132 (evolution of the elephant motif). 

110 Cf. Yale University, Catalogue of tbe Exbibition of Chinese Antiquities 
from Cb'ang-sba, lent by J. Hadley Cox, March-May 1939. F. LBw-Beer, Two 
Lacquered Boxes from Ch'ang-sha, Artibus Asiae, Ascona, x, 4, 1947, p. 302, 
and xi, 4, 1948 p. 266. 

14. Jade disc, type pi. Warring States. Nelson Gallery of Art, 
Kansas City. 


ring States', was in fact a country that was still 'barbarian', even 
while it was undergoing a progressive Sinicization as n result of 
the fact that the Ch'u princes in Hupei — themselves former 'bar- 
barians' spontaneously Sinicized — had extended their domination 
as far as Ch'ang-sha. The lacquered and painted boxes found in 
Ch'ang-sha and dating, it seems, from the fifth to third centuries 
B.C., introduce, when compared with the foliated scrolls of the 
'Warring States', motifs that are patently foreign. Even more 
foreign are the bronze or lacquered wooden supports representing 
cranes, and especially the extraordinary sculpture in painted wood 
representing perhaps a local genie, the workmanship of which is 
absolutely un-Chinese. It was not until the Han period (nume- 
rous pieces of which are likewise found, particularly lacquers, 
in the Ch'ang-sha excavations), that the Chinese influence finally 

The art of south China in the period of the 'Warring States', 
as the Ch'ang-sha discoveries reveal it to us, explains the fact 
that certain motifs of the 'Warring States' style (double S spirals, 
S spirals with 'regressive' volutes, circles with tangents, etc.) 
are to be found on the bronze drums of the so-called Dong-so'n 
culture in Tonkin and in Annam. Karlgren concludes from this 
that in Indo-China the Dongsonian stages may go back to the 
fourth to third centuries B.C., whereas the recent Dongsonian 
might date only from the Former Han onwards, as is proved 
by the discovery, in this layer, of Wang Mang coins (9-22 A.D.). nt 

* * * 

Before leaving the art of the 'Warring States', we must return 
to a topic which we have already mentioned as something which 
points the way towards one aspect of the art of the Han period, 

,n Karlgren, The Date of the Early Dong-s'on Culture, in b.m.f.e.a., no. 14, 
Stockholm, 1942, pp. 1-28. 


namely: the friezes that decorate several bronze vases, gene- 
rally of the hu type, and which represent scenes of hunting, dan- 
ces or magic ceremonies. 

On the magnificent hu of the Stoclet Collection in Brussels, 
naked hunters armed with pikes, knives or bows face wild beasts 
in single combat. The central frieze is particularly vivid. The hun- 
ted animal, already wounded — a bull, it would seem — falls on its 
knees but still faces the enemy, its head lowered to gore the 
hunter. On the upper frieze, near the neck of the vase, tigers or 
other felines, gathered to spring, are stopped short by the hunter 
who pierces their necks with his lance. 112 On a similar hu, in 
the former C. T. Loo Collection, the central frieze is almost 
identical, but the hunted animal, wounded by an arrow and 
facing its pursuer, horns lowered, is a large stag. Hunters and 
animals, whether treated in simple outline, in profile, or in flat 
relief, are full of a powerful and almost savage movement, and 
at the same time arranged in accordance with a remarkable de- 
corative discipline. 

Even more interesting are the mythical or magical themes of 
some of the friezes on these hu vases. On the bronze in the Loo 
Collection that we have just called attention to, we see on the 
lower friezes, near the foot of the vase, 'figures wearing masks 
of birds or other animals and executing animal-like dances, and 
other figures that are horned and wear wings of a kind and 
what may be a bird's tail hung from the waist: probably sorce- 
rers executing a magic dance'. 115 The Curtis gift has contributed 
to the Guimet Museum another hu bronze jar decorated with 
friezes which are no less remarkable. On the register encircling 
the neck appears an archery scene — 'the archery ceremony', it 

m Siren, History of Early Chinese Art, pi. 101. a. Rolf Stein, based on 
the study by Jung Keng on the Shang and Chou Chinese bronzes, in Bulletin 
de I'Ecole Frangaise ^ Extreme-Orient y 1942, 2, pi. 405. 

" 3 Serge Elisseeff, Quelques Heures a I'Exposition des Bronzes Chinois (de 
rOrangerie en 1934), Revue des Arts Asiatiques, viii, 4, p. 239 and pi. lxxi. 


would seem, of the rite described by the I4i and the Chou-li. 
Next, on the same register there is a scene thought to represent 
the gathering of mulberry leaves. On the shoulder of the vase, 
the lower register shows a musical scene: 'four bells and four 
sounding-stones are hung from a cross-piece with a dragon's head 
at each end and supported by two uprights in the form of phoe- 
nixes'; a performer stands in readiness to strike a bell, another 
plays the drum. At a little distance, figures armed with lances 
appear to be dancing. In another part, naked men and women 
pursue hares or, with lance or sword, battle against stags or 

'One of them, holding a dagger-axe {ko) in his right hand, 
a knife in his left, attacks a kind of rhinoceros; another is lifted 
on the croup of a boar that he has seized by the ear'. 11 * We here 
again encounter the movement and the freedom displayed by 
dragons in the circular designs on the mirrors of the same period, 
but here applied to the representation of real animals; 'the supple 
line of the great stags leaping and galloping' is particularly 
amazing in its fidelity. 

Turning from these creatures of the chase as it was practised 
in the scrub-land of archaic China, here are naked hunters and 
huntresses attacking creatures that are most strange, 'dragons 
with horns and antennae and the heads of fabulous animals, 
double-tailed horse-dragons. Even more curious are the beings 
with birds' heads on men's bodies'; a human figure with the head, 
it appears, of a buffalo is perhaps a masked hunter; 'his hands 
and forearms seem to be gloved with skin and imitate an ani- 
mal's paws'. There can be no doubt that these masked sorcerers 
and these naked witches, these animal disguises, shaman's dan- 
ces, and hunts after fabulous stags or other half-mythical crea- 

114 Vandier-Nicolas, Note sue un Vase Chinois du Musee du Louvre, Revue 
des Arts Asiatiques, xn, 4, December 1938, pp. 133-141. 


tures, take us straight into the world of primitive magic. 1 15 They 
belong to the practices of a religion of initiates that the Confu- 
cianist 'positivism', which established itself in the Han period, 
attempted to abolish, but the persistence of which is vouched 
for by the Shantung funerary reliefs dating from this same Han 
period. Thus the friezes of these bronze hu vases of the period 
of the 'Warring States' are a direct transition between the cir- 
cular patterns of dragons on the mirrors of that period and the 
Han reliefs of Shantung. 

In another connection Mme Vandier-Nicolas points out the 
affinities between the representations of animals and of fabulous 
creatures on the hu vases and many of the animals, fabulous or 
real, of the Hunnish bronzes or, more generally, of the art of the 

The Civilization of the Warring States 9 : Ways of Thought 

We have purposely dealt first with the art of this period, 
because it is primarily through its art that the rich complexity 
of the society of the time is conveyed to us, and that we get 
some idea of the freedom, the spontaneity, the creative power, 

m Vandier-Nicolas, op. c/t. t p. 140. In connection with the jnagic represen- 
tation of the bird-man and of the stag-man on the hu in question, see also: 
Karlgren, b.m.f.e.a,. no. 14, Stockholm, 1942, p. 18 and pi. 17. Granet likewise 
shows us the mythical hero Yii the Great wearing feathers to dance 'the Dance of 
/*he Pheasant' or a bear's skin to dance 'the Dance of the Bear'. Tu had become 
-the. master of thunder by dancing in the appropriate seasons the dances needed 
to provide Nature with a regular course, which he did either by dancing the dance 
of the bear, holding a drum, or, like a pheasant, by leaping and beating the 
drum with his wings' (Granet, *Le Pas de Yu in Danses at Ugendes de la Chine 
Ancienne, n, 1926, pp. 575-576). Perhaps, as we have seen, and as both Serge 
Elisseeff and Madeleine David suggest, it might be wondered if the fao-t'ieh mask, 
originally the mask of a ram, a bull, a tiger, a bear or a stag— but always without 
a lower jaw— does not represent the animal skin that the masked sorcerer wore 
to dance the appropriate totemic dance, from which (as today in the case of so 
many of our 'tiger skins' and other hunting trophies) the lower jaw had been 
removed in the process of skinning the animal. 

15. Procession of Dignitaries, wall painting. Han Dynasty. Tomb at 
Liao-yangt Manchuria. 

16. Vase, proto-porcelain. Han Dynasty. Musie Guimet, Paris. 


and the diversity of tendencies which characterized it. Never, 
perhaps, has Chinese society contained within itself such a tumult 
of unleashed forces, such a clash of potentialities. 

The same impression emerges from the texts. For this is the 
great age of Chinese literature, the age when literature was di- 
versified by a lively variety of trends, in contrast to the repetitive 
and often impoverished literary tradition of later centuries. 

Among the various 'schools' into which learning in ancient 
China was divided, was that of the soothsayers; and this was the 
source for one of the earliest works of Chinese literature. Divina- 
tion, as we have seen, was practiced either by means of the ca- 
rapaces of turtles (to which heat was applied, the resulting cracks 
being 'read' by the soothsayers), or by yarrow stalks (which, 
according to their arrangement in curved or broken lines, were 
'read' by the soothsayers and foretold the future). There was a 
table of sixty-four hexagrams, which provided a code for reading 
the omens. These were figures formed of six superimposed lines, 
some unbroken ( — ), some broken (- -). The symbol, or rather, 
the essence, of everything that existed was thought to be contained 
in these hexagrams, the first of which was the symbol of heaven 
(six unbroken superimposed lines), and the second the symbol 
of earth (six broken superimposed lines). The broken line repre- 
sents shadow, cold, passivity, the feminine element, even num- 
bers, and was what the Chinese called the yin element; the 
unbroken line represents light, heat, activity, the male element, 
odd numbers, and was what the Chinese called the yang ele- 
ment. 116 With the exception of Heaven and Earth, the first of 
which is purely yang, and the second purely yin, all things are 
composed of both yang and yin in unequal proportions. It is the 
balance between these complementary forces which constitutes 
the order of the universe; or more exactly, not so much the 
balance between them as the 'changes' that take place between 

■* Translation of the Chinese texts on the yin and the yang in Alfred Forke> 
World-Conception of the Chinese, London, 1925, pp. 12-223. 


them, since each periodically changes into- the other (which ac- 
counts for the alternation of the seasons, of day and night, and 
for such phenomena as the metamorphoses of animals, etc.). As 
can at once be seen, here were the elements of a philosophy of 
the universe and of life, and of a logical classification of things. 
But more than this : it was a coherent system of 'Platonic ideas' 
translated into geometric formulae, by means of which, it was 
believed, the essence of things could be apprehended; the hexa- 
grams revealed the ideal and permanent-archetypes upon which 
concrete things had been modelled and of which they were but 
the temporary reflection. Whoever possessed these diagrams which 
were the archetypal ideas of all creatures and all things, pos- 
sessed also the secret of all things and all creatures, and could 
not only predict their behaviour, but even to a certain extent 
control it. This theory provided a metaphysical justification for 
the powers, deriving directly from primitive magic, to which the 
school of soothsayers laid claim. 

The theory of the eight trigrams (pa-kua) and of the sixty- 
four hexagrams (ch'ung-kud) on which these conceptions rest, 
was elaborated in the manual of divination called I-ching or 
'Book of Changes', a work, according to Maspero, that may go 
back either to the beginning of the eighth century or the beginning 
of the seventh. 117 Later the 'philosophy' that was derived from 
it and that we have just sketched (the theory of the yin and the 
yang) was added to the hching in the appendix known as the 
Hsi'tzu, a treatise whose elements, according to Maspero, must 
have been already fixed by the end of the fifth century B.C. 118 
Another archaic philosophic text is the Hung-fan, 'the Great 
Rule' (or 'Great Plan') 119 , which establishes the concordance (so 

4 Maspero, Chine Antique, p. 448, note 1. On the l-ching, see also Arthur 
Waley The Book of Changes, b.m.f.e.a., no. 5, Stockholm, 1933, p. 121. 

M8 Maspero, op. tit., p. 480. 

119 Subsequently joined to the Sku-cbing of which we shall speak, which in 
the main goes back to the ninth to eighth centuries B.C. 


often invoked since) between the Universe and man through the 
'Five Primordial Elements', to each of which corresponds one of 
the 'five cardinal points', a cosmological conception harmonizing, 
like that of the yin and the yang, with a theory of the qualitative 
components of the universe. 1 * 

We are confronted here with the immemorial data of primi- 
tive geomancy in association with ancient secret lore pertaining 
to the Virtue' of the elements — conceptions which, we may note, 
were never to be disavowed by later Chinese thought. Among 
the various concordances laid down by these principles, that of 
Earth with Heaven, of the human with the cosmic order, was 
also manifested by the doubling of each other by the Sovereign 
on High, who crowned the celestial order, and the Chinese king 
(at this time, of the dynasty of Chou), who crowned the human 
order. The theory of royal power derived from the conception. 
The earthly monarch, whose throne, the 'August Supreme*, is 
the keystone of the human order, exercises his power only because 
it corresponds to that of the Lord on High, who has his seat in 
the Great Bear, and because he holds the 'heavenly mandate', 
which invests him with cosmic 'virtue'. In fact, the Chinese king 
in the time of the Chou was above all the high priest of the 
primitive agricultural and calendrical religion, who alone is qual- 
ified to 'open the seasons' or to close them by performing the 

190 To North correspond Water and the colour black (symbol: the Black 
Turtle). To East correspond Wood and the colour green (symbol: the Green 
Dragon). To West, metal and the colour white (symbol: the White Tiger). To 
South, Five and the colour red (symbol : the Red Bird). To Centre (which in China 
is the fifth of the Cardinal Points) correspond the Earth and the colour yellow (the 
Earth on which the Yellow Emperor reigns). We may add that the theory of the 
Five Elements and the Five Cardinal Points appears to antedate the dualism of 
the yin and the yang, with which we dealt first in the interest of clarity. See 
Maspero, Les Religions Chinoises, Muse> Guimet, 1950, pp. 89-90. Translation 
of Chinese texts pertaining to the 'Five Elements', with tables of concordance, in 
Forke, World Conception of the Chinese, pp. 227-300. Cf. Granet, La Pensie 
Chinoise, p. 228, on the application of these categories to Chinese music. On the 
animals of the 'North', see in particular L. de Saussure, La Tortue et le Serpent, in 
Toung pao, xix, 1920, p. 247. 


suitable sacrifices, and who thereby makes the agrarian cycle 
accord with the seasonal cycle, so that the work of agriculture 
can be carried out; in other words, here, too, Earth is brought 
into concordance with Heaven. 

* * # 

Another important text of archaic Chinese literature is the 
Chou-li ('Rites of the Chou), an administrative collection of the 
fourth century B.C., which underwent various alterations and 
interpolations in the time of the Han. Composed at a time when 
the Chou dynasty no longer exercised any power, the Chou-li 
tends to describe for us not so much the governmental system 
that must previously have functioned when the authority of that 
house was effective, as a kind of ideal government in line with 
the theories of the learned men of the fourth century — an ideal, 
which, in reaction and protest against the brutality and the tumult 
of the 'Warring States', provided the solacing picture of a ma- 
jestically ordered patriarchal society. 121 We may mention also, 
in this connection, the /-//, on the ritual practices of the nobles, 
of great importance for a period in which it was only the nobility 
that engaged in political activity; and the Li-chi, another com- 
mentary on the rites, covering a period from the fourth to the 
first centuries B.C., which enlightens us as to religious ceremonies, 
feasts and sacrifices, mourning rites, filial piety and the religious 
role of music as a harmonizing moral influence etc. 

Another text that was to become canonical is the Shih-ching, 
or 'Book of Odes', a collection that includes on the one hand 
popular songs, and on the other religious hymns. The most 
ancient of the hymns appears to go back to the ninth century B.C., 
the apogee of the Chou dynasty; it was probably sung to a dance 

181 Cf. Karigren, The Early History of the Chou-li and Tso-chuan texts, in 
B.M.F.B.A., Stockholm, in, 193U 



17. Above: Mirror, bronze. Warring States. Ramet Collection, Paris. 
Below: Dragon head, terminal ornament of a chariot pole, bronze. 
State of Hotly Late Chon Dynasty, fifth to third century B.C. 
Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 


rhythm at the time of the sacrifices in honour of the ancestors 
of the dynasty. 122 The latest are presumed to be of the sixth 
century. As for the popular songs, they evoke, according to the 
view of Granet, the 'courts of love' of the young peasant youths 
and maids when they meet in the countryside in early spring. 128 
They are. of ten, despite their archaism, very direct and of great 
freshness. 124 Maspero held the view, however, that many of 
these pieces (which he dated as being of the eighth to seventh 
centuries) are poems in the style of folksongs, composed in 
princely courts on themes of peasant idylls. 

The period of the 'Warring States', is marked by one outstand- 
ing poetic figure, that of Ch'ii Yuan (approximately between 350 
or 343 and 295 or 285 B.C.). His principal poem, the U-sao, is 
a kind of elegy or complaint in which the author, after bemoaning 
the misfortunes of his existence (he had beei^unjustly banished 
and exiled, like Ovid, whose Tristia come to mind), finds himself 
swept up into the sky in a mystic flight during which he disports 
himself in mid-air in the home of the gods. We shall come 
upon the latter theme again in Taoist mystic writings of the 
same period. 

History is represented for the period of the 'Warring States' 
by the Shu-ching, by the book known as the 'Spring and Autumn 
Annals', {Ch'un-ch'iu) and by the Tso-chuan. 

The Shu-ching ('Book of Documents') is a collection of texts, 
the most ancient of which may date back to the ninth century B.C., 
when the Chou dynasty was at its height; the latest events referred 
to in this collection occurred in 625 B.C. Maspero discerns in it 
fragments of more or less euphememed mythological legends, 125 

182 A poem of the same collection (a satire against bad government) is exactly 
'dated' by the eclipse of 775 B.C. 

118 As still today among the Tai of Upper Tonking (Maspero, Les Religions 
Cbinoises, Musfc Guimet, 1950, p. 160). 

134 Granet, Fites et Chansons Anciennes de la Chine, 1919. 

158 See Maspero, Legendes Mythologiques dans le Chou-king, Journal Asia- 
tique, CCIV, 1924, pp. 1-100. 


moral speeches put into the mouths of the 'sage kings' of that 
supposedly patriarchal epoch with which the Chinese furnished 
their proto-history (as for example in the legendary account of 
the hero Yii the Great, founder of the Hsia dynasty), and pass- 
ages that are probably echoes of actual royal edicts and procla- 
mations of the Chou dynasty. 

The 'Spring and Autumn Annals' are the local chronicle, for 
the years 722 to 481 B.C., of the principality of Lu — where 
Confucius was born — in the present-day province of Shantung. 
Another chronicle is linked with it 9 that of the Tso-chuan, which 
is a general history of China from 722 to 450, undoubtedly 
written toward the end of the fourth century B.C. These annals 
are the work of moralists, who select suitable anecdotes in order 
to point a lesson for princes and their advisers. This kind of 
moralizing was for long to be a feature of Chinese historical 
writing, despite its precision with regard to facts and dates. 

During the period of the 'Warring States' that follows that 
of the 'Spring and Autumn Annals' (from 481 B.C.), the Chinese 
world offers us the contradictory spectacle of social foundations 
based on eternal values and of political organizations in perpe- 
tual upheaval. From the political point of view, war raged per- 
manently among the provincial kingdoms, a fierce and merciless 
war in which, amid torrents of blood, each State sought to 
exterminate the others in order to achieve the unification of the 
empire and imperial power for itself. It was to take two and a 
half centuries of carnage before the best organized among them, 
the state of Ch'in, in the present-day province of Shensi, was 
able to bring about this kind of unification by violence. 

And yet, as we have said, never was a social religion more se- 
curely established than the Chinese religion of that time, founded 
on the solidarity binding the generations together and expressed 
in the worship of ancestors and in the practices of filial piety. 
It was a religion based on pacts, as was the agrarian religion of 
which the Chinese king, as 'first tiller*, remained the supreme 



pontiff. In the agrarian worship there was, as we have seen, a 
pact of concordance between Earth and Heaven, between the 
earthly king and the Sovereign on High, for the greater benefit 
of sowings and harvests. In ancestral worship the pact was one 
concluded between the ancestor and his descendants. The descend- 
ants, by the sacrificial offerings with which they fed the ancestor's 
soul, indefinitely prolonged its survival, and the ancestor, by way 
of recompense, would then protect them from on high. Not to 
nourish the ancestor's soul was to condemn it to the wretched 
fate of a roaming phantom (kuefy of a ghost avid for vengeance. 
This steadfastness in the worship of the ancestor would begin 
even in the latter's lifetime, in the form of a filial piety that 
constitutes one of the most constant of the social dogmas that 
help to account for the continuity of Chinese culture. 126 

* * * 

It was not only in social life (and, as we have seen, in the 
field of art as well), that the period of the 'Warring States' can be 
seen to be full of contradictory trends: the same was true in the 
field of speculative thought. This was the time when Chinese 
thought, having set out, as we have also seen, from the notions 
common to all 'primitive mentality', now proceeded to rationalize 
these notions following two different directions so opposed as 
to lead, on the one hand, to Taoism, and on the other, to Con- 

Taoism is expounded in three fundamental works: (1) the 
Tao Te Ching, attributed to a more or less legendary sage, 127 a 

138 On the Chinese family traditionally constituted on these foundations, see 
in particular Olga Lang, Chinese Family and Society, New Haven, 1946. 

m In favour of a certain historicity of Lao-tzu see, however, Fung Yu-Lan, 
History of Chinese Philosophy, Trans. Derk Bodde, Peking, 1937, p. 171. Cf. Hu 
Shih, Criticism of Recent Methods Used in Dating Lao-tzu, Harvard Journal of 
Asiatic Studies, 1938, p. 373. 


text probably written in the fourth century or perhaps not until 
the third century B.C. (2) the book of Chuang-tzu, the author of 
which, bearing the same name, and who in this case was a histori- 
cal personage, lived towards the end of the fourth century B.C. (3) 
the Ueh-tzu, a compilation probably dating from the end of the 
third century B.C. 

We have seen above that in the Hsi-tzu there already appears 
the double notion of yin and yang, that is to say of the two 
modalities between which all things are distributed, the alterna- 
tion of which accounts for the rhythm of the universe and for 
the way in which things appear and disappear again. To this 
double notion had been added that of the tao, a term usually 
translated by 'way', which, however, does not adequately convey 
its meaning because what is implied is a kind of Universal 
Energy, an elan both cosmic and vital, which constitutes the es- 
sential unity of the yin and the yang, since it is the tao that is 
alternatively transformed into the one or the other modality. 
The aim of the Taoist school, as taught in the books of Lao-tzu, 
Chuang-tzu and Lieh-tzu, is to achieve an identification through 
ecstasy with the tao. Through this participation in the cosmic 
power, the sage becomes master of the universe. 128 The powers 
that he acquires in this way and that enlarge his personality to 
the dimensions of the cosmos obviously derive from those that 
the ancient sorcerers immemorially sought in primitive magic. 
But whereas primitive magic had recourse to a holy frenzy that 
was meant to produce the states of trance and of possession, in 

,w As in the Indian yoga, in order to seize Being in its entirety, as it reveals 
itself below the level of our thinking, it is necessary to think beyond the categories 
(in the Kantian sense of the word). 'The bow-net', says Chuang-tzu, 'is for catching 
fish; but when one holds the fish it is no longer necessary to think of the basket. 
The trap is for catching hares; but when one holds the hare it is no longer 
necessary to think of the trap. Words are for catching ideas; but when one holds 
the idea it is no longer necessary to think of words'. (Arthur Waley, Three Ways 
of Chinese Thought, London, 1939. See Waley also with regard to the Tao T% 
Ching. The Way and Its Bower, a study of the Tao Ti Ching and Its Place in 
Chinese Thought, London, 1934. 


which the divine would invest the initiate, it was in motionless 
contemplation, in isolation in nature, in a mountain retreat, that 
the Taoist achieved the mystic union. It should be added, however, 
that subsequently Taoism was to advocate a whole mechanism 
of ascesis, a 'hygiene' of diet, breathing or sexuality, which appear 
rather trivial when we compare them to the flights of a Chuang- 
tzu. The evolution of Taoism is thus from primitive magic to the 
wonderful spirituality of Chuang-tzu, whence it soon returns to 
the spiritism and the utterly unintelledual recipes of thauma- 
turgy. 129 

The fact remains that with 'the Fathers of the Taoist system', 
or rather with their three books— Tao Te Ching, Chuang-tzu 
and Lieh-tzu— Chinese thought reached a metaphysical height 
that was never to be surpassed. It was largely from the great 
Taoist dream of communion with the universe that in the cen- 
turies to come the Chinese feeling for nature arose in the form 
in which it was to triumph in the T'ang poets and the Sung 
landscapists. In literary expression itself, the lyrical flights of 
a Chuang-tzu have accustomed the Chinese mind to dwell on 
the heights. In Chuang-tzu, we find the same spontaneous upsur- 
ge, the same creative freedom as in the art of the same period. 

The contradiction that we called attention to above in the 
political and social field for the whole era of the 'Warring States' 
is to be found likewise (and nothing better shows the richness 
of the epoch) in the realm of speculative thought: in contrast 
to Taoism, Confucianism. 

129 See Maspero, Milanges Posthumes, Muse> Guimet, 1950, vol. I: Les 
Religions Chinoises (in particular, p. 49); vol. II, Le Taoisme; vol. Ill, Etudes 
Historiques (in particular pp. 225-132): Le Saint et la Vie Mystique chez Lao- 
tseu et Tchouang-tseu. Also Maspero, Le Taoisme, in Homines et Mondes, April 
1950, p. 567. 


Confucius (K'ung Ch'iu) who — if we accept the traditional 
dates — lived between 551 and 479, is a definite historical per- 
sonage who was born and died in the ancient principality of Lu, 
in Shantung. He made no other claim for his eminently tradi- 
tionalist teaching than that it transmitted the lessons of the earlier 
sages, among whom were included the half -mythical sovereigns 
of the patriarchal epoch; and inversely, the entire official 61ite of 
scholars of later times claimed to stem from Confucius, attribut- 
ing to him the body of books that by this consecration had 
become 'classical' or 'canonical'. 130 

In reality the 'classics' in which the teachings of Confucius 
had been collected appeared considerably after his life-time. The 
Lun-yu (The Analects of Confucius), which claims to transmit 
to us the sage's discourses, his maxims, his aphorisms, was com- 
piled about the beginning of the fourth century B.C. The Chung- 
yung (The Doctrine of the Mean) and the Ta-hsiieh (The Great 
Learning) both dealing with the virtues of the 'Superior Man', 
that is to say the sovereign according to the Confucian ideal, 
are attributed to a descendant of Confucius, who is presumed to 
have lived about 400 B.C. 

The teaching of Confucius would be incomprehensible if we 
were to forget the principles unanimously accepted by the scholars 
of his time and which he merely codified: the harmony between 
Heaven and Earth, guaranteed by the virtue of the sovereign and 
his counsellors; the efficacy of the rites by which this same har- 
mony is ensured. As for Confucius's personal contribution, it 
seems that the supreme sage stressed above all two concepts on 
which the whole Chinese ethic effectively rests: the concept of 
equity (in Chinese i), and that of altruism (jen). The Confucian 
equity is based on a principle similar to our social 'contract', that 
of reciprocity among men. Altruism, in the broad sense of the 

m For the present state of criticism, see the excellent little book by Alexis 
Rygaloff, Vie de Confucius, P,resses Universitaires, 1946. 


term, and as the school teaches it, involves a sense of human 
dignity, respect for oneself and others, and a concern for mutual 
welfare upon which statesmen like Wang Mang, at the time of 
Christ, or like Wang An-shih, at the end of the eleventh century 
of our era, were to base social legislation and social service mea- 
sures that were highly advanced for their time. 

It is appropriate to observe that Confucian philosophy was 
above all an ethic and that this ethic remained essentially a civic 
and social ethic. The perfecting of the individual here has no 
other aim than the perfecting of society. 131 We see the gap that 
separates the Confucian school and the Taoists, the latter remain- 
ing (at least for this period) the advocates of an almost anarchic 
individualism, to whom any civic or social preoccupation remained 

A school of wisdom rivalling that of Confucius was that of 
Mo-tzu, or Mo-ti, who also came from the principality of Lu, and 
who lived between 480 and 400 B.C. Mo-tzu broadened the Con- 
fucian altruism into a doctrine of universal love, preached paci- 
ficism (an advocacy not without merit in the early period of the 
'Warring States') and placed a special emphasis on piety towards 
Heaven, more precisely towards the Lord On High, considered 
as a personal god. 

Confucian humanitarianism, preached by the School o£ the 
Scholars and flowering through them into a true humanism, pro- 
duced in the second half of the fourth century B.C. a moralist of 
talent, Mencius (Meng-tzu), who like Confucius originated in 
the country of Lu, in Shantung, and whose traditional dates 
are 372-288. The work that bears the name of Mencius is the 
fourth — the other three being The Analects of Confucius, The 

181 It should be added, however, that in the time of Confucius, this referred 
only to the nobility, which alone was regarded as capable of counselling the prince 
and of participating in government, for the people had no part in public affairs. 
But Confucian humanitarianism had such a sound foundation in general ideas 
that it was able progressively to broaden until it embraced all people in its 


Doctrine of the Mean and The Great Learning, — of the canon- 
ical 'Four Books'. He too develops the two great principles of 
humanity and of equity (jen and /). He dwells on the innate 
goodness in the heart of man and on the role of education, 
the aim of which is to make this seed germinate. Because of the 
role thus assigned to education, Mencius was to be for centuries 
the favourite author of the School of the Scholars. 182 

To the optimism of these theoreticians who placed their ideal 
in the golden age of an archaic patriarchal monarchy, the reality 
of the 'Warring States* each day brought a bloody refutation. 
A few of these provincial States — that of Ch'in in Shensi, that 
of Ch'i in Shantung, that of Ch'u in Hupei, to mention the most 
important — were in the process of destroying the lesser princi- 
palities around them. In their service, to justify their conquests, 
a special school, that of the Jurists, elevated political expediency 
into a doctrine. A pessimism devoid of any illusions as to human 
nature had already been taught by the philosopher Hsun-tzu 
(about 300-230), 133 and the jurists cynically made practical ap- 
plications of this outlook in order to crush the individual for 
the benefit of the prince. The interest of the Prince — a Prince 
according to Macchiavellfs ideal — became the supreme law. 
The most remarkable representative of this theory was Wei Yang 
(also called Kung-sun Yang) who, from 361 to his death in 338, 
as minister of the kingdom of Ch'in, helped to establish in this 
State, through ruthless legislation, a centralized and absolute — to- 
talitarian — monarchy, in contrast to the feudal system of govern- 
ment still in force in the other principalities. Thus, by fire and 
sword, with unmitigated harshness, was forged the Empire State, 
which Was to create the Chinese Empire. 184 

5K On Mendus, see Waley, Three Ways of Thought (op. ch.) t p. 118. 
m About 315-235, according to the History of Chinese Philosophy by Hu Shih. 
** On She School of Jurists (better called 'School of Laws', Fa-chia\ see Waley, 
op. cit., p. 143. 


■cw$*lii» is*f ; r\ 

t^'SjaSluV 1 

> »• •«" !>"-• •<•■ 

W ^ w-^<' ; : 

18. Bell, bronze. Warring States. Stoclet Collection, Brussels- 

19. Ceremonial vessel, type ting, bronze inlaid with gold and silver, 
from Chin-ts'un. Warring States. Art Institute, Chicago. 


* * * 

The Kingdom of Ch'in Forms the Empire of China 

We have shown the importance, in terms of physical and 
human geography, of the province of Shensi. The bleak plateaux 
of loess that compose it overhang, survey and dominate the 
'imperial* plain of Honan toward which Shensi 'descends' in a 
continuous slope, following the orientation of the river Wei 
whose junction with the Yellow River, at the T'ung-kuan Pass, 
is of great strategic importance. The furrow of the Wei that 
cuts the plateau from west to east is bordered, especially at the 
approach to the junction, by fertile alluvial lands, 'the smile on 
this morose face'. The lords of this bellicose frontier-march had 
once before, in 1027, in the person of the Chou dynasty, descended 
into the plain of Honan for the conquest of the Chinese throne. 
Then, when the Chou in 770 had abandoned their native march 
and let themselves grow soft amid the delights of Honan, their 
role as barons of the marches had been taken over in the very 
same valley of the Wei by their vassals, the lords of Ch'in. 

And history repeated itself, the princes of Ch'in complet- 
ing — but this time for good — the work only begun and then 
abandoned by the preceding dynasty. Subordinating all affairs of 
state to the perfecting of their army, the princes of Ch'in made 
it into a first-class war machine with no other objective but con- 
quest. Alone among the Chinese feudal lords of their time, they 
were able to rise above the feudal failings, to avoid the crea- 
tion of fiefs on their territory and, thanks to a series of ministers 
like Wei Yang, already mentioned, to create for themselves a 
theory of the state wholly new in China. Without doubt the 
school of jurists, a school of realism and even of political cynicism 
of which Wei Yang was only one representative, propounded 
its maxims to many a provincial ruler. Only the princes of Ch'in 
proved able to put the theory into practice, because the theory 


merely expressed their hereditary behaviour. The unitary, central- 
ized, absolutist, already 'modern' state that they established in 
their Shensi domain was singularly 'in advance' of all the other 
Chinese principalities. In less than a century, between 316 and 
221, it was to conquer and unify all the rest of the territory which 
then constituted China. It is true that in order to bring this 
great task to completion the long lineage of the Ch'in kings was 
to culminate in an exceptional personality — exceptional even in 
world history — that of Ch'in Shih Huang-ti. 

The task of Ch'in Shih Huang-ti had, to be sure, been pre- 
pared by his forebears. Between 256 and 249, at Lo-yang, in 
Honan, they had blotted out the dynasty of the only legitimate 
and pan-Chinese sovereign, the merely nominal kings of the 
house of Chou. But it was Ch'in Shih Huang-ti who, in nine 
blazing years, from 230 to 221, put an end to the other 'Warring 
States'. In 221, disdaining the royal title that had been so long 
discredited, he assumed the wholly new title of Sovereign Em- 
peror {huang-ti)} z * 

The Chinese empire was founded at the same time that Chi- 
nese unity was achieved. 

Chinese imperial unity was beyond question the product of 
the destruction, by Ch'in Shih Huang-ti, of all the 'Warring 
States' except the Ch'in. It resulted above all from the fact that 
the Chinese Caesar made this destruction irrevocable by extend- 
ing to all China the principles of centralization and of absolutism 
that had ensured all the triumphs of the north-west march for 
more than a century. The Ch'in empire — that is to say the Chinese 
empire that lasted for twenty-one centuries — was the state and 
the organization of the Ch'in realm raised to dimensions com- 
mensurable with Chinese continuity and with the scale of the 
Chinese continent. 

m Ch'in Shih Huang-ti properly signifies: Sovereign-Emperor the First (of 
the) Ch'in (dynasty). Q. D. Bodde, Chinas First Unifier, a Study of the Ch'in 
Dynasty, as seen in the Life of Li Ssu t Leyden 1938. 


For Ch'in Shih Huang-ti was not content merely to reign 
over the China that he had unified, that is to say over the 
original Chinese territories of the Yellow River basin and the 
countries, already Sinicized by an imperceptible osmosis, situated 
to the north of the Yangtze. Once he became emperor he sub- 
dued by force of arms the lands, until then peopled by other 
races, of the present South China as far as and including the 
Cantonese region. Add that by the completion of the Great Wall 
he put the provinces of the North in a position to defend them- 
selves against the Huns, and it will then be understood that his 
reign, first as king of Ch'in (246-221), then as emperor (221-210), 
placed an ineradicable stamp on the whole history of China. 

Like the former Ch'in kings, his ancestors, Ch'in Shih Huang- 
ti had been raised in the hard political realism of the School 
of Jurists. 130 He had no sympathy, on the other hand, for the 
scholars of the Confucianist school, whose humanitarian ideals, 
pacificism and conservatism, were a hindrance to his policy. In 
order to have done with the past that they represented, he 
ordered the wholesale destruction of their works — a measure 
that it was doubtless impossible to carry out completely, but 
the effect of which was such that when later attempts were made 
to reconstruct the texts of the former 'Confucian canon', they 
were encumbered with a number of interpolations and spurious 
texts from which, despite an increasingly searching criticism of 
sources, the Chinese 'Classics' still suffer. 

Ch'in Shih Huang-ti ordered that on his tomb, near the present 
city of Sianfu, in Shensi, an enormous tumulus should be erected, 
which rises more than 150 feet above its base, and 250 feet above 
the forward limit of the embankment, a mound of half a million 
cubic metres that dominates the Wei plain from afar, as the First 
Emperor dominates the centuries. 1 * 7 But while his work — the 

m See Waley, op. r//., p. 180 (Realism in Action). 

m See Chavannes, M&noires Hhtoriques de Sseu-ma Ts € ien % vol. II, p. 193. 
J. Lartigue, R&ultats Archeologiques, Journal Asiatiqve, May- June 1916, p. 407. 


unitary Chinese Empire — was to last more than two thousand 
years, his dynasty did not survive him, as he died in 210 and 
his incapable son disappeared in 207 in the midst of a general 

Until a few years ago, the name 'Ch'in art* was given to the 
art (in particular to the style of the bronzes) that we have 
described under the name of: style of the 'Warring States' (or 
Huai style). In point of fact, the imperial period of the Ch'in 
(221-207) is much too brief to make it possible to fit into it all 
lite bronzes belonging to the style in question. The imperial art 
of the Ch'in is but the last phase of the art of the 'Warring 

Chapter Two 

Han Rule in China and in Upper Asia: The Western Han 

The structure erected, however hastily, by Ch'in Shih Huang- 
ti must have been built of indestructible materials, since after the 
civil war and the anarchy that followed the death of the Founder, 
Chinese unity and imperial centralization remained intact. The 
saviour as well as the beneficiary of the imperial idea was a 
soldier of fortune, Liu Pang, whom nothing — excepting perhaps 
his peasant cunning — seemed to designate for such a role. And 
while Ch'in Shih Huang-ti, the heir of a line of more than thirty 
princes, was able to ensure the throne for his house only for 
three years, Liu Pang, the upstart peasant, founded an imperial 
dynasty destined to reign for four centuries (206 B.C. to 200 A.D.), 
a dynasty whose very name was to become, as it were, the symbol 
of all legitimacy. 

It is significant that the Han dynasty, which originated in 
what is today the Nanking region, should at once have transferred 
its capital to Ch'ang-an, or Sianfu, in the province of Shensi, 
the former patrimony of the Ch'in. This north-western march 
was retained as the core of the Empire, the territory from which 
the rest of the Chinese soil could be dominated. By setting up 
his capital in Ch'ang-an, close to the former capital of the Ch'in, 
Liu Pang declared himself to be their direct successor. 


Liu Pang had become the emperor Han Kao-tsu (206-195), 
but he was nevertheless unable to prevent his lieutenants from 
reassuming the former feudal titles abolished by Ch'in Shih 
Huang-ti; yet with his customary cunning he saw to it (as did 
his heirs after him) that these titles coresponded to no reality 
of power. His work along this line was continued by one of his 
descendants, the Emperor Han Wu-ti (140-87 B.C.), the most 
powerful personality of the dynasty who, in this respect, can be 
compared only to Ch'in Shih Huang-ti himself. In order to com- 
plete the establishment of an absolute monarchy and put an end, 
once and for all, to attempts at feudal restoration, Han Wu-ti 
withdrew administration from the hands of the nobles who had 
held it from time immemorial, and entrusted it to the Confu- 
cianist scholars. Since the founding of the Empire, these had 
remained in opposition. Han Wu-ti reconciled himself with them 
in order finally to eliminate the nobility, and this union of Chi- 
nese Caesarism and of the Confucianist 'mandarinate' was to last 
as long as the Empire itself. 1 

The reign of Han Wu-ti was in fact accompanied by a real 
rebirth of Confucianism. The texts of the Confucian canon, 
destroyed in 213 B.C. on the order of Ch'in Shih Huang-ti, were, 
from 191 on, enthusiastically restored. In 175 the Five Classics, 
now reconstituted, were engraved on stone, like our Biblical 
'tablets of the law*. The work of restitution, as we have seen, 
was not accomplished without alterations, interpolations and ten- 
dentious interpretations. The prime concern was to reduce the 
various sources to uniformity at all costs, in order to achieve a 
rigorous conformity. Thus it was that Confucianism became an 
official, syncretistic and apparently coherent doctrine, the ideolo- 
gical framework of the Chinese State. In 136 B.C. a college was 
accordingly established, to provide the orthodox interpretation of 
the 'Classics'. In 125 the Emperor Han Wu-ti decided that in 

1 Cf . Edouard Biot, Essai sur VHistoire de Vlnmuction Publique en Chine el 
de hi Corporation des lettrts, Paris, 1847. 



order to enter the administrative service a candidate would hence- 
forth have to pass a competitive examination based on these 
same texts. Such was the origin of the system of examinations, 
which remained in effect from that time on until 1912. Tung 
Chung-shou (who died about 105 B.C.), the theoretician of this 
conception of Confucianism, who had inspired these measures, 
gave the formula of the new orthodoxy by professing that the 
Confucian canon 'teaches the submission of the people to the 
sovereign and the submission of the sovereign to Heaven': Con- 
fucius restored gave legal sanction to, and legitimized, the autho- 
rity of the Han dynasty. 2 While thus placing their ideology at 
the service of the imperial government, the scholars did not 
by-pass the opportunity afforded them of exerting their restrain- 
ing criticism upon Chinese Caesarism. It was Tung Chung-shou 
who worked out the system of 'censors', whereby these same 
scholars were to serve, up to a certain point, as moderators. 

The Confucianist restoration was carried into the following 
generation by Liu Hsiang (77-6 B.C.) who, at the Court's request, 
made an edition of the 'Five Classics'. 3 

Externally, Han Wu-ti founded Chinese imperialism in Asia. 

To the north, beyond the Great Wall, in present-day Inner 
and Outer Mongolia, the Chinese found themselves at grips with 
the Huns, nomadic herdsmen of Turko-Mongol race, formidable 
because of their squadrons of archers who made lightning raids 
on the frontiers of the Empire. Han Wu-ti, using their own 
tactics against them by way of retaliation, organized counter- 
raids that crossed the Gobi from south to north, and fell without 
warning upon the Hunnish encampments in the steppes of Upper 

3 An autocracy based on a bureaucracy, writes Wang Yu-Ch'uan, in An 
Outline of the Central Government of the Former Han Dynasty, Harvard Journal 
of Asiatic Studies, June 1949, p. 181. 

* It should be noted that certain writers in the same circles of official 
scholars showed signs of Taoist leanings which more or less harmonized with 
the reigning Confucianist orthodoxy; among them may be mentioned Chia I (198* 
166) and Liu An (died 122. B.C.). 


Mongolia. When one of the Chinese generals who led these 
expeditions, Ho Ch u-ping, died in the full flower of manhood, 
Wu-ti had erected to the memory of the great horseman, near 
Hsien-yang (Shensi), a tumulus with a great stone statue in the 
round at its base, representing a Chinese horse with its feet 
trampling a fallen barbarian archer, or perhaps a Tartar horse 
between whose feet its mortally wounded rider has slumped. 4 
Segalen rightly considers that 'this massive block is a splendid 
piece of tragic sculpture'. Yet there is a certain crudeness about 
the work as a whole which, taken in conjunction with its incised 
details, is not without analogy with the marble sculptures of 
the Shang period. From the Shang to the Han, with lie excep- 
tion of the work in the round found on the bronzes of the 
Chou or the 'Warring States', sculpture — at least as far as we 
know — had practically disappeared. When it reappears, after an 
interruption of nine centuries, its general aspect is still the same. 
Among the most ancient Han funerary terra cottas, more than 
one preserves this same crude, squat character, as though the 
original matter from which it was meant to emerge were still 
clinging to it. And it was by a return to the same heavy masses 
(but, alas, without the epic power of the Ho Ch'ii-ping horse) 
that Chinese sculpture, after the 'liberation of forms' in the 
Wei and Tang periods, was to close its cycle under the Ming. 
From the campaigns conducted by his squadrons against the 
Huns in the two Mongolias, emperor Han Wu-ti was to achieve 
one permanent conquest: the present-day province of Kansu; an 
annexation that was all the more valuable since the string of 
oases that continues thence from east to west, between the Gobi 

4 Sec Segalen, De Voisins and Lartigue, VAtt Funiraire h I'Epoque des Han 
(1935), p. 33. Seiichi Mizuno, Zeakan-dai ni okeru Boshoku Sekicho no Ichigun 
ni tsuite (The Stone Sculpture of the Tomb of Ho Ch'ii-ping). Tohd GakuB* 
no. 3, Kyoto, 1933. But Jean Buhot wonders if the Ho Ch'ii-ping horse, as it 
has come down to us, and which bears so little resemblance to the Han steeds 
that we know, is not a late restoration of the Tang period (or even later) 
{Revue des Arts Asiatiques, x, 2, June 1936, p. 114). 

20. Painted tiles (detail). Han Dynasty. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

21. Incense burner, type po-shan-hsiang-lu, inlaid bronze. Han Dy- 
nasty. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 


to the north and the chain of the Nanshan to the south, is 
the point of departure for the caravan trail — the famous 'Silk 
Road' — that somewhat later was to link China with the Indo- 
Iranian and the Graeco-Roman worlds. 

The caravan oases of the Silk Road itself, in present-day Sin- 
kiang, our Chinese Turkestan, were then inhabited by popula- 
tions that we know to have been Indo-European, populations that 
spoke east-Iranian dialects in Kashgar, Yarkand and Khotan, 
and other Indo-European dialects — closer, these, to our languages 
of Europe (to Latin and Celtic, for example) — in Kucha, Karashar 
and Turfan. Over most of these small kingdoms the Emperor 
Han Wu-ti extended the suzerainty of China. His squadrons even 
reached the province of Ferghana, in present-day Soviet Turke- 
stan, whence they brought back, as remounts for their cavalry, 
stallions of the great tran-Oxianic race, and it is possibly as a 
result of this that we find represented in the funerary terra cottas, 
alongside the small indigenous Chinese horses, those great Ira- 
nian steeds, those 'Anglo-Arabs' with elegant Tarthenonian 
heads, well known to archaeologists. 5 

To the north-east, the Emperor Han Wu-ti subdued a part of 
Korea; to the south-east he likewise annexed the Vietnamese do- 
main, then composed of the Tonkin delta and the coastal plain 
of northern Annam, between Than-hoa and Hue. Korea and 
Vietnam undoubtedly preserved their racial and linguistic indi- 
viduality even under Chinese domination. But the work of Chi- 
nese civilization was here decisive. Everywhere the Han 'legion- 
aries' brought with them a knowledge of the Chinese script and 
the texts of their classic literature, in short the whole of Chinese 
humanism. In the same way, in the West, the Roman legionaries 
were to carry with them the whole heritage of Graeco-Latin civi- 
lization. Most important of all, the Chinese conquerors brought 
with them, to the very great benefit of the Korea and the Viet- 

5 Yetts, The Horse, a Factor in Early Chinese History, Eurasia Septentrio- 
nalis Antrqua, ix, Helsinki, 1934, p. 231. 


nam of the future, the Confucianist conception of the State, 
of centralized power, of regular administration, in place of 
the indigenous forms of chieftainship. They also brought im- 
mense material progress, as exemplified by the introduction of 
the metal plough — a technical revolution which was brought to 
light by Henri Maspero — in place of the stone or wooden hoe. 
And when, later, Vietnam and Korea became independent coun- 
tries, it was to be on the Chinese model, with princes who had 
been enlightened as to their duties by a study of Confucius and 
by the example of the Chinese Son of Heaven, and who had 
themselves become true Sons of Heaven. 

In the same way — to make this legitimate comparison once 
again — after the fall of Rome, the German or Slav chieftain was 
to become, on the model of the vanished Caesars, a 'Kaiser' or a 

By book and by sword, the China of the Han, that Rome 
of the Far East, performed a Roman task. 

It may be added (we shall revert to this later) that under the 
influence of Han China regional schools in the arts of pottery, 
funerary statuettes and bronze sprang up — notably those of Than- 
hoa (northern Annam) and of the Lo-lang and Rakuro districts 
(north-western Korea)— which are of great archeological in- 

* * * 

The events of the reign of Han Wu-ti and the whole course 
of Chinese history previous to it have been related by a very great 
historian, Ssu-ma Ch'ien, 'the Herodotus of China (145-86 B.C.). 7 

* See O. Janse, Archaeological Researches in Indo-China, i, Harvard, 1947; 
and, for Korea, the Japanese publications (Umehara) on the Lo-lang district, and 
on Rakuro, Archaeological Reasearches of the Chosen kozeki kenkyu kai 9 I, Seoul 
and Tokyo, 1934. 

T Biography of Ssu-ma Ch'ien by Chavannes, MSmoires Historiques, vol. I, 
Introduction, p. xxiii. 


Already close to inner government circles, his appointment as 
official annalist brought him into the personal service of Han 
Wu-ti; but through his independence of spirit (for having de- 
fended an unjustly accused general) he drew down upon himself 
the wrath of the emperor, who meted out a cruel punishment. 8 
His 'Historical Records' {Shih-chi) % a true monument of histori- 
cal writing that for us is beyond price, is a work of the highest 
merit, solidly documented, and often positively scientific in its 
regard for accuracy in the parts dealing with the period in which 
the author could check his facts from his personal knowledge of 
them. 9 

Another famous writer, Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju, was also a pro- 
t6g6 of the Emperor Han Wu-ti, from 138 to his death in 117. 
A poet of merit, he had the whims of a poet, to the point of 
abandoning the Court from time to time and running off with 
some light-o'love to lead a Bohemian life in a wayside inn. He 
has celebrated in his verse the picturesque landscape of the pre- 
sent-day province of Hupei, a region that had already produced, 
in the period of the 'Warring States', the author of the IJ-sao. 
He has likewise described the savage beauty of the imperial 
hunts, in the course of which Han Wu-ti would pursue his fe- 
rocious prey with a temerity that earned him the reproaches of 
Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju. 10 

8 This powerful personality, Han Wu-ti, caused the misfortune of several 
other eminent men at court. For instance, he ordered the massacre of the whole 
family of General Li Ling who, long victorious, had at last had the bad luck 
to be made prisoner by the Huns; he also had executed the high official Yang 
Yiin, guilty of independence. See in Margoulies, The Ku-wen, pp. 93, 101, the 
letters of Li Ling and of Yang Yun, two of the most eloquent pieces of Chinese 
prose in this period. 

• The translation of the Shth-chi by Chavannes (Mimohes Historiques) inclu- 
des the first forty-seven chapters of the text in addition, as indicated above, to 
a very important introduction on the life of Ssu-ma Ch'ien, the reign of Han 
Wu-ti, etc. In addition to Chavanne's study, see the observations by C. S. Gardner, 
Chinese Traditional Historiography, Harvard, 1938, p. 16. 

10 See Margoulies, Le Kou-wen, p. 74. 


The first dynasty of the Han was overthrown in the year 
8 a.d. by one of their ministers, a scholar named Wang Mang 
who usurped the throne from the year 9 to the year 22 and who, 
as a theoretician, carried Confucianist altruism much further than 
the philosopher Motzu himself. Accordingly, Wang Mang, once 
he ascended the throne, undertook to modify the property 
system. 11 In the Confucian Canon, the golden age of the mythical 
sovereigns, with its supposedly patriarchal organization, was 
ceaselessly praised as a vanished ideal. Wang Mang took it into 
his head to revive it. For centuries the great estates had grown, 
the latifundia, that periodic scourge of the Chinese economy, had 
multiplied; the class of small property-owners, of free men, had 
correspondingly diminished, increasing the number of 'clients' 
and slaves. Wang Mang fought to put an end to this enslavement. 
The rich', said this contemporary of Christ, 'have acquired im- 
mense properties, whereas the poor do not even have a patch of 
land big enough to stand a needle on. People are sold like cattle 
and horses, which is an outrage to the dignity of man, as con- 
ceived by Heaven and Earth'. 12 

Wang Mang thus derived from Confucianism an agrarian 
socialism in accordance with which he proceeded to an equitable 
sharing-out of the cultivated lands. At the same time he promul- 
gated the principles of a controlled economy, regulating transac- 
tions and establishing price equalizers', in order to build reserve 
granaries in the years of good harvest and provide public aid 
during periods of high prices or of famine. 

" Hans Stange, Leben, Personlichkeit und Werk Wang Mangs (Kapitel der 
Han-Annalen) t Berlin, 1934; Also, Monographic fiber Wang Mang, Ts*ien Han chu t 
Kaphel 99, Leipzig, 1939. H. Dubs, Wang Mang and his Economic Reforms, 
Toung pao, 1940, p. 219. 

14 Cf. Martin Wilbur, Slavery in China during the former Han Dynasty, Publi- 
cations of Field Museum of Natural History, Anthropological Series, Vol. xxxiv, 
Chicago, 1943. Hans Wist, Sklaverei in China, Artibus Asiae, 1940, p. 238. 


Han Rule in China and in Central Asia: The Eastern Han 

Wang Mang succumbed before the combined resistance of 
conservative Confucianism and Han legitimism; also by reason 
of the peasant rising of the 'Red Eyebrows' {Che-met), who had 
taken advantage of the social disturbances created by the reper- 
cussions of his reforms to break loose in the province of Shan- 
tung. (Note should be made of peasant uprisings such as this. 
All too explicable in themselves, they were often deflected from 
their social objective to mystic ends by Taoist magicians. They 
were to recur in the same form throughout Chinese history). 
Legitimacy was finally re-established in the person of the repre- 
sentative of a junior branch of the Han family, who thus became 
emperor Kuang Wu-ti (25 to 57 a.d.). This second branch of the 
Han, which was to reign from 25 to 220, had its capital in the 
city of Lo-yang (Honan-fu) in Honan. 

These 'Later Han* completed the conquest of Central Asia 
begun by the preceding branch. From 72 to 102 of our era, a 
bold Chinese captain, Pan Ch'ao, who proved to be both a remark- 
able administrator and a great 'colonizer', re-established the im- 
perial protectorate over the oases (which were then, as we have 
seen, Indo-European) of present-day Eastern Turkestan (Sin- 
kiang) — Turfan, Karashar, Kucha, Kashgar to the north, the 
Lob-nor, Khotan, Yarkand to the south. 18 These oases, admi- 
rably cultivated at the time, Vegetable-garden' oases in the heart 
of die Gobi desert, were also caravan oases, halting places on 
the northern or southern trails of the 'Silk Road' that linked the 
Chinese world, over the passes of the Pamirs, to the Indo-Iranian 
world, and beyond Iran, to the Roman world. 14 Having reached 

13 The life of Pan Ck'ao, translated from the Hou-Han Sbu t was published by 
Chavannes, Toung poo, 1906, p. 216. 

14 The exchange of goods between Levantine caravaneers and caravaneers bring- 
ing silk from China took place in a valley to the east of the Pamirs, in the spot 
known as 'the stone tower (Uthtnos Pyrgos), the present Tach Kurgan, near 


the Pamirs, the Chinese conqueror Pan Ch'ao conceived the idea 
of establishing commercial and political relations with Rome, 
then governed by the emperors of the house of the Antonines. 
His plan failed, but, as we know through the Chinese annalists 
of the Hou-Han shu as well as through the Alexandrian geogra- 
phers, such as Ptolemy (about 170 A.D.), traffic between the West 
and China over the 'Silk Road' continued to prosper. 15 

We shall see that over this road Graeco-Buddhist art brought 
Roman influences right to the heart of Chinese Turkestan: the 
mural paintings of Miran, in the Lob-nor (third century), could 
— apart from any religious consideration — have come from Dura- 
Europos or even from Pompeii. It was in fact above all the Bud- 
dhistic religion (which, incidentally, inspired the Miran frescoes) 
that benefited, as we shall see, by this great line of communica- 
tion. Here we shall merely mention that about 60-70 A.D. we 
already find a Buddhistic community, organized by Indian mis- 
sionaries, establishing itself on the lower Yangtze. 10 This trade 
in ideas, intimately linked to the trade in goods, was made pos- 
sible only because the Chinese generals of the Han dynasty had 
extended the 'Chinese Peace' to within approach of the Graeco- 
Buddhistic Afghanistan and Punjab and because this Pax Sinica 
extended its hand across Parthian Iran, to the Roman Peace. 

It should not be forgotten that, as well as the double trail of 
caravans that linked the Roman empire to the Chinese empire, 
from Antioch to Sianfu, across Graeco-Buddhistic Bactria, there 
was also a maritime route in this same period of the Antonines 
and the later Han. The Chinese annals mention, for the year 
166 A.D., the arrival in China of a Roman merchant who claimed 
to have come at the behest of 'An-tun — this, according to the 
date, would be Marcus Aurelius Antoninus— and who, by way 

u See Albert Herrmann, Das Land der Seide im Lichte der Antike, summari- 
zing previous works, Leipzig, 1938, and his Historical and Commercial Atlas of 
China, Harvard, 1935, maps 24, 27, 35, 37, 39. 

" Maspero, Journal Asiatique, 1934, vol. II, pp. 87-107. 



of tribute, brought curiosities obtained on the coast of Indo- 
China. In confirmation of this the French archaeologist Malleret 
has just discovered in Oc-eo, on the Cochin-Chinese coast, near 
the frontier of Cochin-China and Cambodia, an ancient port fre- 
quented by Roman merchants, and has found there coins of An- 
toninus the Pious and of Marcus Aurelius. 17 On this maritime 
trade the information provided, on the Graeco-Roman side, by 
the Alexandrian geographer Ptolemy, coincides, as it does for 
the Central-Asiatic 'Silk Road', with the data obtained from the 
Chinese annalists. 18 We may note, moreover, that it is precisely 
during this period that Han moralists point (in disapproval, it 
must be added) to the extension of trade as well as to the love 
of exotic products. 19 

* * * 

To the long peace of the Han, Etienne Balazs notes, cor- 
responds a stagnant period in Chinese thought: 'With Confucian 
pragmatism the enquiring mind rested content". After the text 
of the Classics had been restored along conformist and conser- 
vative lines, official exegesis completed the work of dissimulating 
the discrepancies in their sources (their origins and tendencies, 
as we have seen, were in fact quite diverse) in order to present 
the whole as a homogeneous canon, the unshakeable foundation 
of all political and social truth. "The key-words remain /*" and i; 

17 See Louis Malleret, I/Art et la M&allurgie de l'Etain dans la Culture 
d'Oc'eo, Artibus Asiae, xi, 4, 1948, p. 274; Also, Les Activites de l'Bcole Francaise 
d'Extreme-Qrient, Bibliography of Indian Archaeology, Kern Institute, xv, Leyden, 
1950, p. 46. Grousset, Traces des Romains en Indochine, La Revue francaise, no. 20, 
December 1949, p. 8. 

35 See Rolf Stein, Le Lin-yi, Han-hiue, Bulletin du Centre fEtudes sinologiques 
de Mkin, n, 1/3, Peking, 1947, p. 115. 

* In particular, the moralist Wang Fu (about 90-165). See Etienne Balazs, 
La Crise Sociale et la Fhilosopie Politique a la Fin des Han, Toung poo, xxxiv, 
1-3, Leyden, 1949, p. 99. 


//, the proprieties, usages, rites, etiquette, and i, signifying im- 
partiality, equity on the part of superiors, the duty of obedience 
on the part of inferiors. The whole proffered in a tone both 
sugary and stiff'. 20 'Only the strict observance of the traditional 
social relations, the putting of everyone in the place where he 
is to live according to his lot, in obedience to the moral law, 
will put the world back on the right path'. A period of moralism 
and of conformity that was to be followed, as we shall see, by a 
harsh awakening. 

At the peak of this later Han dynasty we come upon two an- 
nalists of talent: Pan Ku (32-92) and his sister Pan Chao (who 
died after 102). Pan Ku wrote the history of the Former Han 
dynasty (Ch'ien han sbu) a history that covers the years from 
206 B.C. to 8 A.D., which his sister, after him, completed. 21 

Art in the Han Period 

After the work done by Chavannes in Shantung and Honan, 
by S6galen and Lartigue in Szechwan and the Japanese ar- 
chaeologists in Korea, our knowledge of Han art is beginning 
to be fairly well defined. In any case, a great number of bronzes 
that were considered to be Han twenty years ago, in particular 
among the inlaid bronzes and the mirrors, are now recognized to 
be earlier and are classed as 'Warring States', conforming to the 
description that we have given of this style. In reality, however, 
as the Korean finds show, it is often difficult to draw a distinction 
between 'Warring States' motifs and Han motifs. 

Korea, or more exactly the northwest part of the peninsula, 
did not become a part of Chinese civilization until 194 B.C. at 

30 Balazs, La Crist Sociale a la Fin des Han, /. r., p. 93. 

* See Lo Chen-Ying, Une Famille d'Historiens et son Oeuvre, lnstitut franco- 
chinois de Lyon, ix, 1931. The older brother of Pan Ku and of the lady Pan Chao 
was general Pan Ch'ao (32-102), the conqueror of Central Asia. A famous piece 
is the petition by dame Pan Chao asking that the illustrious warrior, who had 
been governor of the Tarim basin for nearly thirty years, be at last allowed to retire 
(see Margoulies, Le Kou-wen, p. 106). 

22. Carped stone. Han Dynasty. Rietberg Museum, Zurich, Von der 
Heydt Collection. 

23. Dog, earthenware, Han Dynasty. Musie Cernuschi, Paris. 


the earliest, at which date a Chinese adventurer carved out a 
principality for himself there, in Lo-lang (near present-day Pyong- 
yang); a more definitive date is that of the year 108, when the 
Emperor Han Wu-ti annexed this same region. The works of 
art discovered in 1931 in the Lo-lang district by the Japanese 
archaelogists Koi2umi and Sawa can therefore not antecede the 
early Han. A bowl from the so-called Wang Hsu tomb is in 
fact dated 52 A.D., and the tomb of Wang Kuang (with its tray 
on which the goddess Hsi-wang-mu is depicted) is of the year 
69 of our era. 32 As for the most interesting tomb, the so-called 
'painted basket' tomb, it seems to belong to the second-to-third 
centuries A.D. And here, on boxes of lacquered wood, with designs 
in yellow and red (or occasionally dark blue) on a black back- 
ground, we find spirals and volutes of dragons, very elongated, 
of which the style is still 'Warring States 1 . 23 

Such comparisons show the close continuity between the 
'Warring States' style and the Han style. All that can be said 
about the Lo-lang finds is, that despite the astonishing freedom 
and the soaring fantasy of linear design that they show, there 
is hidden within this a regularity of arrangement that is already 
Han. There is also an individualization that is typically Han in 
the elegant dragons that hurtle at a flying gallop — an equine 
or a leonine gallop — on the registers of the lacquer found at 
Lo-lang. Further, there are, also in the 'painted basket' tomb, 
a lacquered cylinder, which must have served as a scroll-case, 
and a lacquered table, both with designs in gold, silver, yellow, 
black and green on a red background, which have as their main 

41 Ch5sen-koseki-kenkvu-kai (Society of the study of Korean antiquities) 
Vol. n, The Tomb of Wang Kuang of Lo-lang, Keijo, Seoul, 1935. 

M Id., Vol. i, The Tomb of Painted Basket of Lo-lang, 1934, pi. Li. Hague- 
nauer, Les Fouilles de Coree. La tombe du panier peint. Revue des Arts Asiatiques, 
x, 3, 1936, p. 143. On the pre-Han and Han lacquers in general, see O. Manchen- 
Helfen, Zur Geschichte der Lackkunst in China, Wiener Beitrdge zur Kunst und 
Kulturgescbichte Asiens, XI, 1937, pp. 32-65, and L6w-3eer, Zum Dekor der 
Han-Lacke, same number, pp. 65-73. 


theme small clouds that still dance in the 'Warring States' man- 
ner, but which already have that fleecy appearance which does 
not seem to occur until Han times. 24 Finally, on the second of 
these lacquer pieces are depicted, along with bird-dragons that 
still show the 'Warring States' influence, recumbent deer that are 
quite in the Han style, as well as human figures running, which 
immediately recall the little imps and sorcerers of the rubbings 
of the Shantung bas-reliefs published by Chavannes. 25 Altoge- 
ther, as we look through the plates of the Korean finds, we rea- 
lize how the passage from the style of the 'Warring States' to that 
of the Han was marked by imperceptible transitions, the final 
stage of which is shown by the design of the human figures on 
the registers of the 'basket' itself, which is characterized by that 
slackening of tension, that restraint, that standardization, which, 
in our opinion, are the typical characteristics of the Han style, 
or at least of the style pertaining to the stagnant Later Han 
period. 26 

Perhaps this enables us to perceive a law of evolution in Han 
art: that it took over themes from the style of the 'Warring 
States*, with all its impulsive vigour and unbridled fancy, and 
proceeded to standardize them and impose upon them an ever- 
increasing symmetry of arrangement. 

Han mirrors are classified by Karlgren into several catego- 

* Tomb of painted basket, pi. lvh and lxix. 

* Ibid., pi. LXDL 

* Ibid., pis. xliii-xlvi. Similarly, on one of the pieces of silk found in Upper 
Mongolia, in Noin-Ula, the two pairs of fantastic horned and bearded birds joined 
at their base and facing each other, still belong to the 'Warring States' in the 
fancifulness of their lines, but already show the Han influence in the regularity 
of their symmetry (C. Trever, Excavations in Northern Mongolia, Leningrad, 
1932, pi. 13). It so happens that the find is exactly dated as Han by a Chinese 
lacquer of 2 b.c (Minns, The Art of Northern Nomads, British Academy, 1942, 
p. 27). Other precise chronological references will be found in an article by 
Umehara on the Han discoveries in the Pyong-yang region of Korea, Revue des 
Arts Asiatiques, 1926, p. 28; (a lid painted in red lacquer of 4 B.C., a mirror of 
5 B.C, etc.). 


ries. 27 He assigns his 'Category F*, consisting of pieces from the 
Huai-ho basin, to the early Han period, between 200 and 100 B.C. 
In this category, the background is reduced to zebra lines, straight 
lines, or scrolls, so minute that the pattern often becomes vir- 
tually indecipherable. In the ornamentation, the old 'Warring 
States' theme, the circle of stylized dragons, has been reduced 
to an interlacing of foliated scrolls and transformed into a purely 
ornamental motif, now submitted to a strict symmetry of design 
which is already somewhat heavy and, despite its regularity, at 
times somewhat cluttered, and even confused. On several of 
these mirrors we find the T L v motif prevailing (with, in the 
centre, a magic square'; they are probably connected with divi- 
nation). 28 On others (and this is an important innovation) an in- 
scription in Chinese characters is placed in a circular band that 
runs either round the central knob or round the outside edge. 
At times, too, there appears, between the two circular bands in 
the centre and at the circumference, a large star with 6, 7 or 8 
points, which effectively balances the design. 

Karlgren next distinguishes among the Han mirrors a series G, 
with more simplified ornamentation (a background of tiny spi- 
rals ornamented with star patterns); a series H of the second 
century B.C., with sketchier and at the same time heavier versions 
of the same motifs; a series J, likewise of the second century, 
with the same tendencies aggravated; and a series K, also of the 
same period, characterized by an inscribed square surrounding 
the central knob, and, on the circumference, a border of stars, 
usually with sixteen points (or eight arcs); a motif consisting of 

27 Karlgren, Huai and Han, b.m.f.b.a., Stockholm, 13, 1941, pp. 89 ft See 
also Umehara, Kan sangoku rikucbd kenenkyd sburoku, Repertory of dated mirrors 
of the Han, Three Kingdoms and Six Dynasties. Tokyo, 1931. 

. * Cf. Kaplan, On the origin of the tl v mirror, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, 
xi, 1937, pp, 21-24. Another opinion is that of Perceval Yetts, who compares 
these T l v mirrors to an object represented on the Shantung stone carvings, which 
he takes to be a sundial (Yetts, The Cull Chinese Bronzes, London, 1939, no. 
28, pp. 116-165, pi. xxi). 


various kinds of winged figures also occurs on mirrors of this 
category. Finally, an L category, ascribed to the period from 
100 B.C. to 100 a.d. (a few specimens bearing inscriptions from 
the time of Wang Mang the usurper, between 9 and 23 of our 
era), contains mirrors on which the design is very crowded, but at 
the same time disciplined: an inscribed square surrounds the knob, 
the ornamentation is in bosses and t's frequently combined with 
tigers rather similar to those of the Han reliefs of Shantung, and 
a second inscription in very 'square calligraphy fills a band plac- 
ed between the centre and the circumference. On the mirrors of 
late Han times Taoist figures appear more and more, sometimes 
accompanied by dragons, all of them — dragons and human fig- 
ures as well — somewhat crowded and cumbersome in design; 
there is a voluminous central knob and an inscription round the 
circumference. 20 

The same preoccupation with symmetry is to be observed in 
the large bronze basins, such as the famous one in the Hosokawa 
collection, in Kyoto. 30 In this characteristic piece, the freedom 
of line of the central dragon as well as of the animals (tigers, 
bears, pljoenixes) decorating the band around the periphery, might 
seem still to belong to the 'Warring States' style. But all these 
various elements, with their sharpness of outline, their subtle 
delicacy, are balanced and ordered with such discipline that we 
clearly see exemplified here the order imposed by Han rule. 

** The Japanese archaeologists, for their part, ascribe to the middle or the 
end of the Former Han dynasty (first century B.C.) the mirrors with boss or star 
designs (the latter being the ones with the *eight arc' star and inscription round 
the circumference) discovered in Pei-sha-ch'eng and in Hui-an, near Kalgan, 
north of Peking, on the Great Wall. See Archaeologia Orientalis, series B, vol. v, 
Pei-sha-ch'eng, in T6a-k5ko-gaku-kai (Soctet£ de 1'Asie Orientale), 1946, plates xvn- 
xxn, li-lxi, lxxi-lxxii, etc. In the same excavations there have been discovered 
lacquer boxes, painted with elegant foliated scrolls or filiform arabesques with 
cloud scrolls, fantastic birds, members of the deer or goat tribe in flying gallop, 
powerful and supple tigers, etc. These objects testify to the quality of the best 
Han style. 

30 Good reproduction in Siren, History of Early Chinese Art, pi. 50-51. 


Can we really say, at any rate of the masterpieces among 
them, that the Han bronzes are lacking in elegance? The Hoso- 
kawa basin proves the contrary, as does also the famous under 
side of the lid of a cosmetic box (lien) of gilded bronze, with 
decor of painted engraving, in the former Eumorfopoulos Collec- 
tion (now in the Victoria and Albert Museum) with its back- 
ground of coral-pink spirals and in the centre the dazzling and 
delicate phoenix in pale green and bluish green touches, which 
is so well known to all lovers of Chinese art* 1 Han art here 
achieves a true classicism, without losing any of the creative spon- 
taneity of the 'Warring States'. The same may be said of various 
mirrors painted in bright colours 32 belonging to the Moriya col- 
lection in Kyoto, or to the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, Massa- 
chusetts. The same classic order is to be observed in the large 
Han bronze clasps inlaid with precious metals, malachite and 
turquoise, and, generally speaking, in the other bronzes dama- 
scened with gold and silver of the same period 33 — vases, tubes, 
rings or ornaments — whether they bear rigidly geometric designs 
or foliated scrolls and spirals, waves and flames with springing 
curves at times blossoming into wings or beaks of birds, or else 
dancing clouds, this cloud theme being, it would seem, charac- 
teristic of Han. At times, as in the case of a certain bronze tube 
inlaid with gold and silver wire that we admired in the Hoso- 
kawa Collection in Tokyo, the foliated scrolls rise to form abrupt 
mountains on whose slopes deer, boars, hunting dogs or felines 
leap and cavort. Here, despite the dancing fancifulness of the 
design, we have real hunting scenes, similar to those that we shall 
later come upon in the reliefs of the Shantung funerary cham- 
bers. 84 

31 See Yetts, Catalogue of the Eumorfopoulos Collection, Bronzes, vol. 1, 1929, 
pis. liv-a, lxxviii. Ashton and Gray, Chinese Art, 1935, pp. 82-83. 

* Blue, red, white, etc. 

* See Selected Chinese Antiquities from the Collection of Gustav Adolf, 
Crown Prince of Sweden (1948), pis. 22 and 28. 

M Reproductions in Siren, History of Early Chinese Art, pi. 49. 


On several Han bronze vases, in particular those of the hu 
and ting type, we find on the contrary a simplification of design 
amounting to a total disappearance of motifs. The vase becomes 
naked of all ornamentation except that on the handle rings, in 
the form of a small t'ao-tieh, which itself has lost the crowded 
detail of the "Warring States' representations and is simplified 
to an extreme degree. We may pause to note, in this connection, 
the evolution of the/ r *o-/'/>A. This semi-bestial, semi-divine mask, 
emanating directly from primitive magic, which on the Shang 
bronzes had been invested with great occult powers, has become 
under the Han a mere decorative mascaron. 

* * * 

The best introduction to Han art, however, is that provided 
by the bas-relief stone carvings of the offering chambers and 
funerary cells of Shantung and Honan, which were studied by 
Chavannes. In Shantung, the earliest series of reliefs is that at 
Hsiao-t'ang-shan, which today is dated by Chinese archaelogists 
— no doubt correctly — as of the first century B.C. 85 If these really 
belong, as we also are inclined to believe, to the end of the For- 
mer Han period, we may say that at that time stone relief is still 
in its infancy, with a contour that is precise but bald, almost ma- 
thematical, having no other object than to circumscribe objects 
and beings correctly. The second Shantung series is the so-called 
Wu-liang-tz'u series, near Chia-hsiang, this one quite precisely 
dated as being of 147 to 167 a.d. The style is already much more 

45 Hsiao-t'ang-shan is in any case earlier than 129 a.d. (Chavannes, Mission 
Archiologique, text, I, p. 62). In Honan, the Teng-feng-hsien pillars where other 
Han reliefs are to be found, likewise studied by Chavannes, are dated between 118 
and 123 aj>. We may point out that the French Institute of Peking (Centre for 
Advanced Chinese Studies, under the aegis of the Sorbonne), on the initiative of 
its director Louis Hambis, has begun the publication in six albums of a Corpus 
des Pierres Sculpties Han. Volume 1, devoted to the Shantung reliefs, was 
published in Peking in 1950, 


evolved, with compositions that are freer, and also more complex 
and more studied. 'An art of harmonious and at times dramatic 
grouping', notes Otto Fischer, "is manifested in these processions 
of chariots and horsemen, these palace receptions, these gods and 
demons of Taoist mythology, in the battle around a bridge, or 
in the grandiose vision of the voyage of the soul to the gateway 
of the kingdom of supernatural beings'. 

These bas-reliefs are obviously governed by the law of two 
dimensions, arranged as they are in registers, the stiff rows of 
which are in contrast to the feeling of intense movement that 
compares with that of the contemporaneous inlaid bronzes. 36 As 
for the technique of these reliefs, the contours of the figures are 
in some cases simply line-engraved, in the usual linear style of 
Han draughtsmanship, and in other cases (as in the Wu-liang-tz'u 
group) they have been, as we sometimes say, 'reserved' by hollow- 
ing out the stone around the figure which thus remains on the 
plane of the surface. 

The Shantung and Honan funerary reliefs have for us the 
signal merit of informing us as to ancient Chinese mythology of 
a much earlier period — of one which antedates all canalization 
of thought into official Taoism or Confucianism. Sorcerers, the 
magic tree, fabulous beings all play important r61es. Here are 
the goddess Hsi-wang-mu, Queen-Mother of the West, with or 
without her Tong-wang-kung and accompanied by her familiar 
retinue of animals, the three-footed solar raven, the lunar hare 
grinding the drug of immortality, the nine-tailed fox, etc., or 
else the Seven Stars of the Great Bear, with the personages of 
their court. Also the first mythical civilizers, Fu-Hsi holding the 
square, and his sister Nu-kua holding the compass, their bodies 

38 See the important study by Wilma Fairbank, Structural Key to Han Mural 
Art, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, April 1942, p. 52, a sequel to the article 
by the same author, The Offering Shrines of Wu Liang tzV, in the same re- 
view, 1941. 


ending in intertwined serpents' tails; 37 and the whole series of 
the legendary Three Kings' and 'Five Emperors'. In addition we 
find fabulous monsters: a kind of centaur with two human torsos, 
wild beasts bearing eight human heads issuant from the neck 
on as many serpents' bodies, like the hydras of our classical 
mythology. But the most extraordinary of all the creatures in 
the Chinese mythology are the winged genii (their appearance 
is at times reminiscent of the sprites and goblins in our own 
folk traditions), genii whose bodies seem to end in serpents' tails. 

These fantastic beings give a prodigious sense of movement. 
In Wu-liang-tz u, around a seated divinity, we see a whole crowd 
of genii with outspread wings, approaching, flying away or plung- 
ing to the ground; a kind of winged sprite holds out a branch 
of the Tree of the Three Pearls; another, kneeling, offers him 
a goblet; a third seems to be dancing; a certain number of them 
flutter in and out among the monsters that surround the divinity, 
monsters that are a kind of female sphinx whose animal body 
bears a double human torso, or human figures with bird's or 
horse's heads, or inversely, enormous birds with human heads. 
An amazing freedom, the legacy of the 'Warring States' style, 
pervades all these scenes. 

A number of large compositions, in Wu-Liang-tz'u, represent 
mythological kingdoms, 'Kingdom of the Waters', 'Kingdom of 
the Air', etc. The Kingdom of the Waters carries us away to a 
strange world. 38 The water divinity, 'the Count of the River', 
that is to say the Huang-ho made into a divinity, advances on 
a chariot drawn by fish; around him swarms 'a procession of 
frogs, turtles, water rats, fish equipped with lances, halberds, 
swords or shields, men astride fish, beings with frogs' heads or 

31 This interlacing we shall find again on the Buddhistic frescoes of Central 
Asia. But we also find it in Indian art. See Taichird Kobayashi, Nii-kua and 
Kuan-yin, Buddhist Art, u, Tokyo, 1948. 

38 Chavannes, Mission Archiologique dans la Chine Septentriottale, I, pi. lxvi, 
no. 130. 

V '" i— 

v,% y* 




/5r* "is - * ■ 



24, Dancer* earthenware. Han Dynasty. Musie CernuschU Paris. 


human heads with fish bodies'. Elsewhere we see the Kingdom 
of the Air, Wind and Storm, with wild galloping in which 
strange Chinese pegasuses, winged dragons having a certain re- 
semblance to horses, 39 fantastic quadrupeds with serpents' tails, 
fly past, some of them straddled by the usual winged genii, the 
whole enveloped in the headlong flight of squadrons of clouds. 
The clouds themselves are often represented in an almost ani- 
malized or humanized form: a bird or dragon head or else the 
torso of a winged genius dominate a 'body' and a" 'wing' likewise 
formed of coiled volutes (snail coils that in later Chinese paint- 
ing were to remain the schematic representation of clouds); the 
various clouds thus individualized nevertheless remain connected 
to one another by a maze of incidental spirals. The dragons and 
genii themselves seem in some cases to emerge from the cloud 
maze, and in others to vanish and blend into it, with their ser- 
pents' tails which, like the rest of the cloud, wave in the air. In 
the middle of the aerial tumult the thunder god, with mallet 
blows, beats his drums.* Goddesses, joining in the chase, brandish 
the 'ropes of rain'. One of the genii of thunder, leaping on the 
back of his prostrate victim, strikes him with lightning, sinking 
a chisel into the back of his neck with a hammer. 41 

We may note in this connection that the conception of the 
clouds as the dwelling place and substance of the dragon — who 
can always manifest himself there in blinding flashes — will recur 
throughout Chinese art right up to the painting of the Sung. 

These various scenes, as we have said, are all the more pre- 
cious to us since the myths of archaic China are for the most 
part lost. From another point of view, the fancifulness of inven- 

* The dragon-horse, in Chinese mythology, lives on the approaches of the 
Yellow River. The legendary founder of the Hsia dynasty, YS the Great, had 
dealings with him. 

40 We know the importance of drums and tomtoms in primitive magic, in 
negro civilizations, etc. On the connections between the Drum and Thunder in 
archaic China, see Granet, Danses et Ugendes, 11, pp. 440, 509-510. 

41 See Chavannes, Mission Arcbiologique, pis. lxvh to lxx, nos. 131-134. 


tion and the extraordinary movement that sweeps the themes 
and figures along are very close to the art of the 'Warring States'. 
On the other hand, the realistic animals and the genre scenes, 
on these same reliefs, are specifically Han. In Hsiao-t'ang-shan, 
in Wu-liang-tz u, in Chiao-ch'eng-ts un (all in Shantung province), 
and elsewhere as well, Chavannes has taken rubbings of hunting 
scenes in which the stags, does, bucks, hares, breathlessly pursued 
by greyhounds and archers on horseback, are rendered in all their 
sheer grace and speed, caught in the lightning moment of expres- 
sive action. 42 No less precise in the art of animal representation 
is the return from the hunt, in Wu-liang-tz'u, with the attendants 
carrying home the trophies on their backs: a tiger, an enormous 
boar, etc, 48 We are here given a glimpse of the prodigious chases 
for which the poet Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju reproached the Emperor 
Han Wu-ti. 

In the same vein — a vein that at times achieves an epic qual- 
ity — are the cavalcades and processions of chariots. The horses 
of the Han reliefs, robust animals with powerful rumps and 
chests, heads held high, prance nobly or carry their riders at a 
flying gallop. Light and graceful in Hsiao-t'ang-shan, they are 
heavier in Wu-liang-tz u, with necks like a bull's, in contrast 
with their slender legs. The details of chariot and harness are 
no less precisely observed. And there are also battles. In Hsiao- 
t'ang-shan, a battle against the 'Hu, the Barbarians from the 
North (perhaps the ancestors of the Huns), showing the charge 
of the mounted archers, the m£16e and the final victory, evokes 
for us the great Hunnish wars, the epic of the Han in Upper 
Asia. 44 The battle on a bridge, occurring twice in Wu-liang-tz'u, 
with its intensity of movement, also shows that Pan ChWs 
contemporaries had an epic strain. 45 

* Chavannes, pi. xxviii, fig. 50; pi. lxxxvii, fig. 162. 
a Ibid., pi. lxviii, fig. 132. 

41 Ibid., pi. xxvi, &g m 47. 

* Ib/d. 9 pis. Lin and lxxi, figs. 109 and 136. On the genre scenes in the 


There is a long-standing hypothesis that many of these reliefs 
of the funerary chambers were craftsmen's copies, for the use 
of the dead, of paintings for the palaces of the living. This seems 
particularly likely in the case of the reliefs in the chamber of 
offerings of Chou Wei's burial place, at Chin-hsiang, in Shan- 
tung, dating from about 50 A.D. and representing 'the meals of- 
fered to the Ancestors'. 46 Otto Fischer, who has made a searching 
study of the subject, discerns in these line-engraved designs all 
the characteristics of true painting, beginning with authentic por- 
traits, and including the laws, already formulated, of Chinese 
perspective as it was to continue through the centuries. 47 There 
are also the elements of a Chinese landscape in the 'twin trees' 
of the Li Hsi stele, in Kansu, of which Chavannes has taken 
a rubbing (171 A.D.). 48 

But there are, in addition, some authentic Han paintings still 
surviving: a few painted bricks found in Lo-yang, today at the 
Boston Museum, which undoubtedly date from the end of the 
Later Han. 41 * They show human figures drawn in outline with a 
swift, sure brush, already displaying remarkable mastery. The 
faces, attitudes and personalities of each of these noblemen are 
sketched with lightning speed and with humour. The slender 
grace of the women is rendered — in the long flowing robes with 

Shantung reliefs, see Maspero, La Vie Privee en Chine a 1'Epoque des Han, Revue 
des Arts Asiatiques, vn, 4, 1931, p. 185. 

** Otto Fischer, La Peinture Chinoise au Temps des Han, Gazette des Beaux 
Arts, 1932, p. 20. 

47 "The Chinese system', Otto Fischer notes in this connection, 'recognizes 
neither horizon nor central viewpoint, nor the convergence of the orthogonals 
toward the background. It treats the planes almost abstractly, from a bird's eye 
view. Thus the eye looks down from above on ground and floor. The lines running 
off into the distance are conceived and represented as parallels, as they are in 
reality (and not as our eye sees them), and can be seen rising obliquely toward 
the background'. The application of these fundamental principles will be found 
again in the landscape of Sung times. 

48 Chavannes, Mission Arcbiologique, pi. lxxxix, no. 167. 

40 The essential work on Han painting is that by Otto Fischer, Die cbhieshche 
Malerei der Han Dynastie, Berlin, 1931, 


their wide sleeves — in a single stroke. The shades of colour, 
red, rose-tinged beige, or dark brown, are very delicate. 50 Apart 
from these, a Han fresco on wood from the so-called 'basket' 
tomb in the Lo-lang district in Korea, shows us the elements of 
a cavalcade in black with some touches of red and occasionally of 
yellow in the elegant, swift style of the best equestrian represent- 
ations of Hsiao-t*ang-shan. ni Here again we see how closely con- 
nected are painting and bas-relief. 

* * * 

There is also a good school of Han sculpture: that of Sze- 
chwan, studied by the Segalen, Lartigue and de Voisins Mission. 
The Shantung and Honan reliefs were in most cases, it seems, 
but craftsmen's copies. Those of Szechwan are frequently the 
work of artists. The funerary pillar of Feng-huan (121 a.d.) and 
the Shen funerary pillars (likewise of the second century A.D.), 
both in Ch'u-hsien, are certainly exceptionally fine monuments. 

But it 'is the reliefs of these pillars that are particularly re- 
markable. One might mention, for instance, 'the funeral cortege' 
at the top of the Shen pillars, in entablature motifs, which gives 
an impression of unrestrained romanticism, and 'the stag ridden 
by an amazon, no less strange in its evocation of lost myths, ac- 
companied as it is by the moon hare grinding its drug of immor- 
tality; 62 also a 'barbarian archer', split from left to right by the 
line of his great diagonal gesture, the left arm holding out the 
bow, the right pulling the string full stretch, a technical feat wor- 
thy of the finest sculptors of all time. 5 * Also on the capitals of 

* Reproductions in Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, », pis. 4-7. 
Fischer, loc. cit., figs. 4, 5, 7. On the Chinese costume in general in late antiquity, 
see Harada, Costumes of the Han and Six Dynasties, Tokyo, Toyo Bunko, 1937. 

w Ch5sen-koseki-kenkyu-kai, The Tomh of Painted Basket of Lolang, vol. I, 
Seoul, 1934, pi. xxxii. 

58 Segalen, de Voisins, Lartigue, Mission Archiologique, Atlas, 1, pis. XX, xxii. 

83 lbid. y pi. xxv. 

25. Han Huang: Four Scholars in a Garden Collating Old Writings. 
Painting on silk. T'ang Dynasty. Hui-hua kuan, Peking. 

26. School of Li Ssu-hsiih: Travellers in a Mountain Landscape. Painting 
on paper. Collection of the Chinese Nationalist Government, For- 


the Shen pillars, two t'ao-t'ieh masks, treated here as heads of 
burrowing animals, which are realistic despite their strangeness; 
on the inner front side of the right-hand pillar, the relief repre- 
senting the Red Bird (in Chinese geomancy, the animal symbol- 
izing the South), a superb piece of decorative carving, having 
an imperious elegance in the spread of its wings and in its strut- 
ting gait. 04 Finally, on the inner sides of the two Shen pillars, the 
White Tiger and the Green Dragon, the respective symbols of 
West and East, whose supple grace and slenderness (that of the 
tiger in particular) are a response to the challenge of the space 
— that of the length of the pillar — to be filled, are reminiscent 
of work in jade. What we have here is, in fact, a Han jade — a 
jade of the dimensions of a free-standing column. 515 The restraint, 
the refined simplicity of the theme, the classicism of inspiration 
(in the western sense of the term) invest these reliefs of the 
Shen pillar with the quality of the very best style of the Han. 150 

* * * 

The objects of Han art most familiar in the West are the terra 
cotta statuettes {ming-ch't) representing animals or human fig- 
ures, and the terra cottas that are models of houses, household 
utensils, etc. 57 Undoubtedly, as in the tombs of the pharaohs, 
what we have here are 'substitutes' intended to enable the dead 
to continue his familiar existence and prevent him from feeling 
too much out of his element. It is true, of course, that among 
our funerary statuettes there are some that represent fantastic 
beings whose very character excludes this explanation. But their 

54 Ibid., pis. xvh, xvm; also Lartigue, L'Art Funiraire a fEpoque-des Han, 
p. 57. 

m Ibid., pi. XXIII. 

* See Vadime Eliseeff, Les dix-huit Piliers FuneVaires, in the collective vo- 
lume: Victor Sigalen, 1947, p. 72. 

w On the statuettes judged to be pre-Han, d. Loehr, Clay Figurines and 
Facsimiles from the 'Warring States' Period, Monumenta Serica, x, 1946, p. 326. 


presence may be linked to other magical considerations. And 
above all else, the discovery in the Shang tombs of An-yang of 
series of skeletons pointing to animal sacrifices and even to whole- 
sale human sacrifices forces us to come back to the idea of the 
'substitute'. 58 With the humanization of customs and the triumph 
of Confucianist moralism, the human or animal victims were 
simply replaced by representations, resembling their originals as 
closely as possible, by which the dead as well as the divinity would 
be hoodwinked. Haguenauer is of the view that in particular the 
figurines of horses, so numerous in the time of the Han, suggest 
the former sacrificial use of the horse, 'who used to be considered 
an animal peculiarly fitted to lead the soul of the defunct into 
the beyond'. He recalls that the sacrifice of the horse at funeral 
rites still had this significance among the Buriats and the Yakuts 
of Siberia." 59 

Of the smaller pieces of Han sculpture there survive, apart 
from the terra cottas, some statuettes in bronze. All lovers of 
Chinese art are familiar with the gilded bronze bears, standing 
or crouching, which are to be found in many of our collections 
(that of the Stoclet collection, for example) and which are so 
accurately observed, and show such 'psychological* perceptive- 
ness in the modelling of a body that is both heavy and supple, 
with its little blinking eyes and quivering muzzle, which, beneath 
an apparent good-nature, betray a cunning alertness. Several of 
these were used as supports or feet for furniture. Good specimens, 
having served as ends of table-feet (bears of gilded copper adorn- 

M The reservation expressed by Siren (History of Early Chinese Art, n, p. 52), 
based on the most virtuously orthodox Confucian texts, was made before the 
discovery of the An-yang sacrificial ossuaries. 

• Haguenauer, La Tombe du Panier Peint, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, x, 3 f 
1936, p. 147. We also know that under the Han the living, like the dead, were 
fond of statuettes of this kind and that the moralists disapproved of them for 
this. Wang Fu (about 90-165) spoke out against the frivolity revealed by the love 
of *clay carts, pottery dogs, horsemen, figurines of singers and dancers' (transl. 
Balasz, Toting pao, xxxix, 1-3, 1949, p. 101). 


ed with turquoise, shown seated, the forepaws resting on the 
knees), have been discovered by the Japanese around the village 
of Tae-tong-kang, near Pyong-yang, in tombs dating from the 
end of the Former Han or the beginning of the Later Han (objects 
dated between 85 B.C. and 52 A.D.). 60 

The same sympathetic and amused understanding of animals, 
the same humour, so characteristic of the spirit of Chinese crowds, 
can be observed in a number of the Han terra cottas, particularly 
those dogs of various kinds (the 'bulldog' of the Cernuschi Mu- 
seum), hogs, roosters, ducks, owls. 61 Similar qualities of obser- 
vation are still to be found, it is true, in animal representation 
under the Six Dynasties and the Tang, but what is interesting 
about the Han modellers is the swiftness of their 'sketches', their 
skill in bringing out the essence of the forms with a few deft 
touches, in communicating the character of the species in a curve 
or two. In the period of the 'Warring States', despite the animals 
in recumbent posture (of small dimensions, always) on the lids 
of certain Li-yii bronze vases, form in the round was not yet lib- 
erated. Completely liberated it becomes under the Han, with a 
swiftness of line equal to that of the paintings now in Boston 
or the best of the Shantung reliefs' or the still finer reliefs of 
Szechwan. And at the same time, faithful as they are in observa- 
tion, the realism of the Han sculptors prevents them from indulg- 
ing (in the way Tang sculptors often did) in showy effects and 
exaggeration of the muscle structure. Their realism remains sober, 
lean, wedded to simplicity, revealing in a few lines the spirit of 
the forms rather than dwelling on their detail; or one might say 

60 Umehara, Deux Grandes Decouvertes Archeologiques en Cbree, Revue des 
Arts Asiatiques, in, 1, March 1926, p. 28, pi. xi. See in the same style a white 
marble crouching bear, Han period, but with the incised treatment of the Shang 
sculptures (or the jades), reproduced by S. Mizuno, Chinese Stone Sculpture, 
Tokyo, 1950 (Mayuyama editions), pi. ii, fig. 4. 

61 A recent book redolent with the age-old subtlety of Chinese humour ever 
present behind the gravest acts or reflections, is that of Lin Yutang, The Importance 
of Living, with its racy philosophy. 


that it considers form only in terms of movement, because it is 
in fact in movement that, in the case of animals, the character 
of the species is best revealed, and with man, the psychology of 
the individual (as in the Boston painted bricks). The whole art 
of the Han is an art of linear movement. The restrained and, 
one might be tempted to say, crude character of the Han terra 
cottas derives from this linear swiftness translated into the 
round/ 52 

The same observations apply to the statuettes of horses. The 
general style of the modelling is sober, but we can discern se- 
veral types, which perhaps correspond to different breeds of 
horses. On several terra cottas the horse presents the same squat 
appearance — massive neck, chest and rump — as on the Wu-liang- 
tz u bas reliefs. 03 This is undoubtedly the typical native breed as 
it was before subsequent cross-breeding. (There are some good 
specimens at the Cernuschi Museum). Many small equestrian 
bronzes, likewise Han, show us, if not another breed, at least 
a more elongated treatment of equine forms. Finally, several 
large-scale terra cottas 64 and, in the Korean excavations, wooden 
statues 65 present us with a wholly new type — relatively slender 
neck, long head, sensitive and lean — that are reminiscent of the 
well-known outline of the Parthenon horses. It is possible that 
this represents a breed imported from the West, and that these 

** This character is no less striking in the small bronzes found at Lo-yang, 
dogs, rams, boars, and particularly in the wonderful little seated monkey (like a 
Japanese netsuke), reproduced by White, Tombs of Old Lo-yang, pi. lxxxv). More 
than one of the Han clasps of the Coiffard collection, shown in the Cernuschi 
Museum, are in the same vein. 

* So, too, does the recumbent horse, a stone statue from the tomb of Ho 
Ch'ii-ping (Siren, History of Early Chinese Art, pi. 5). 

** Characterized in our collections by the absence of legs. What the Han 
modeller did was to fit wooden legs to the terra cotta bodies. The wood, in the 
Chinese climate, perished from damp in the tombs in which these horses were 
buried. On the other hand, the Korean excavations have yielded up Han wooden 
horses with legs (Haguenauer, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, x, 3, 1936, pi. 50). 

m Chdsen-koseki-kenkyu-kai, The Tomb of the Painted Basket of Lo-lang, 
pis. Lxxx-Lxxxn, text by Harada. 



J J " v 




ft: ~ >■ 


\ / 

* 'V 


J ^ 





• ■'■'"" 

27. Chimera, stone. Third to fourth century A. D. Nelson Gallery 
of Art y Kansas City. 


are no longer the native Sino-Mongolian horses but belong to 
the great race of Arab-Persian horses. The history of the Former 
Han, in fact, reveals that in 102 B.C. the Chinese made an expe- 
dition to that part of Western Turkestan now known as Fer- 
ghana to bring back steeds of the great trans-Oxianic or Bac- 
trian race for the remounting of their cavalry, which would un- 
doubtedly afford the imperial squadrons a certain superiority over 
the Hunnish archers mounted on the small Tartar horse. 66 
Crossbreeding with the horses from Ferghana would thus explain 
the western appearance of a whole category of our Han horses, 
without its being necessary to assume that they were made in 
direct imitation of the Pegasuses and other steeds featured on 
the Graeco-Bactrian or Indo-Greek coins in circulation on the 
Silk Road. 67 It must, however, be admitted that there are certain 
winged horses: those on the Wu-liang-tz'u reliefs in Shantung, 
the one on the left pillar at P'ing-yang in Szechwan, with its bold 
workmanship, and, at a later date, and more striking still con- 
sidering the time-lapse, those on the best of the T'ang mirrors, 
which do seem to hark back to Graeco-Roman models.... 68 

Human representations in the round, as we have seen, ante- 
date the Han dynasty. The bronze statues found in Lo-yang which 
represent a man kneeling and holding a tube (perhaps the shaft 
of a standard) in each hand, are generally attributed to the 'War- 
ring States' period. 09 The Japanese archaeologist Sueji Umehara 

* See Chavannes, Mimoires Historiques, vol. I, pp. lxxi-lxxvii; and Yetts, 
The Horse, a Factor in Early Chinese History, Eurasia Septentrionalis Anriqua, 
vol. ix, Helsinki, 1934, pp. 231-255. 

97 Chavannes, Mission Archiologique, I, pi. lxvii, fig. 131. 

68 On the other hand, the tomb guardian lions, sculptured in the round, found 
by the Chavannes mission (in Wu-liang-tz'u, for example) or the passant lion on 
the P*ing-yang pillar in Szechwan, a relief photographed by the Segalen mission, 
can only be of Graeco-Iranian inspiration (since the lion exists neither in China 
nor in the Ganges region of India) (Segalen, de Voisins, Lartigue, Mission As- 
cheologique, Atlas, pis. XLI, XLll). 

* White, Tombs of Old Lo-yang, pis. lxxvi-lxxxiii, now in the Toronto Mu- 
seum. Similar bronze statuettes, found by O. Janse in Thanh-hoa, but of the Han 


likewise attributes to the 'Warring States' terra cottas with a 
black lustre finish presumably originating in Hui-hsien, in the 
extreme north of Honan, a few specimens of which (human 
figurines with rather crudely executed faces, a recumbent hog, a 
seated wild beast) have come to the Boston Museum. 70 But what 
chiefly survives from the Han period are the numerous and char- 
acteristic terra cotta figurines. One of the most widespread types 
is that of the standing figure of a man wearing the long costume 
known as p'ao: the collar facings crossing in a triangle over the 
chest, the sleeves widening 'dewlap-wise', hands joined but hid- 
den under the ample sleeves, the waist belted tight, the robe 
spreading from knees to feet. 71 Another type is that of a per- 
sonage wearing the chung-tan-i robe, which falls straight from 
the waist to the feet. As for the women they also wear the long 
costume and affect — as a refinement of fashion — a wasp waist'. 
These statuettes are generally very simple in design, without much 
attention to detail or indication of muscular play. It is the same 
linear art as on the personages of the painted bricks in the Boston 
Museum. Like these, the figurines are remarkable for their mo- 
vement, whether their subjects be musicians and dancers of the 
princely courts or the humblest workers at their tasks (the cook 
scaling a fish, in the Cernuschi Museum). 

* * * 

The little pottery figurines of the Han period thus provide 
us with information (as do the Shantung funerary reliefs) about 
the private life of the time. In addition to human or animal 

period and intended for lamp-stands; Janse, Archaeological Researches in Indo- 
China, Harvard, 1947,. pi. 9. 

10 Umehara and K. Tomita, Mortuary Figurines and Miniature Vessels of the 
Epoch of the Warring States, Far Eastern Ceramic Bulletin, 8, 1949, p. 34, and 
pi. VIII. 

n See Maspero, La Vie Privee a l'Epoque des Han, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, 
vii, 1932, p. 195, pi. Lix, g. 


representations, we also find quite detailed models of various hab- 
itations — houses of one or several storeys, pleasure-towers sur- 
rounded by stretches of water, farm houses with out-buildings 
(pigsties, fish-ponds, aviaries, etc.) as well as miniature copies of 
furniture, farm tools, instruments and utensils of all sorts, etc. 72 
To these must be added, as contributions to our knowledge of 
the ornamental side of life in the Han period, the luxurious pieces 
found in the excavations of northwestern Korea (in the an- 
cient district of Lo-lang or of Rakur6) : the painted and lacquered 
basket found in the tomb known as the 'tomb of the painted 
basket' which accounts for the name given to this burial site, 
besides other lacquered objects from the same tomb: scroll cases, 
chests, jewel cases and various boxes, toilet cases, cups and bowls, 
spoons, trays, tables, the top part of various pieces of furniture 
— all of them lacquered with designs generally in gold and red 
on a black background, or with touches of green or yellow on 
a red background, and most of them brilliantly colourful. The 
many exquisite motifs decorating some of these pieces should 
be noted — dragons and foliated scrolls, and, on most of the 
Lo-lang lacquer pieces, those specifically Han clouds to which 
we have already called attention. 73 

One cannot grasp the splendour of the Han period, its rich- 
ness, its luxury, the refinement of its taste, unless one has become 
acquainted with the Korean finds belonging to this period. 

n Maspero, Op. cit. t pi. lvii. Idem, Sur Quelques Objets de l'Epoque des Han, 
Etudes (POrientdisme, publiees par le Musee Guimet a la Memoire de Raymonde 
Linossier, 1932, p. 403. Consult further for the architecture, the models of houses 
discovered by the Japanese mission in Thanh-hoa excavations, Janse, Op. cit. 9 
pis. 5, 45, 74, etc. 

19 See the plates, often in colour, of the publications of the Chosen koseki- 
kenkyu-kai, 7, The tomb of painted basket of Lo-lang, II, The tomb of Wang 
Kuang of Lo-lang (text by Harada) Keijo (Seoul) 1934 and 1935. Compare the 
under-side of the^lid of the cosmetic box in the Eumorfopoulos Collection men- 
tioned earlier and" reproduced in the Yetts catalogue, pis. liv-a, lxxvih; and also 
certain lacquered boxes found in Ch'ang-sha (in South China) and undoubtedly 
dating from the Former Han (Low-Beer, Two lacquered boxes from" Ch'ang-sha, 
Artlbus Asiae, xi, 1948, p. 266). 


Among the luxurious products of Han times must be included 
a number of bronze clasps and many jades. 

Han belt buckles seem to offer a larger variety of forms than 
those from other periods, and to be particularly rich in appea- 
rance. The hook seems to be more carefully treated than in the 
period of the 'Warring States', and it sometimes terminates in 
a bird's head that is in itself as large as the rest of the buckle. 
On the other hand, the boss is smaller (and generally placed 
in the centre). The decoration has a more concise and natural- 
istic elegance than in the time of the 'Warring States'. Here as 
elsewhere fancy gives way to 'a calmer and more classic pattern'. 74 
But the art of the 'Ordos' bronzes, the art of animal representa- 
tion of the steppes, continues to inspire interfacings of dragons, 
each of which bites the tail of the other, the whole forming a 
scroll. Several of the simple buckles, representing tigers (in the 
collection of the King of Sweden or in the Coiffard Collection), 
are likewise definitely 'Ordos'. We also find anthropomorphic 
motifs decorating buckles. As for the buckles that are inlaid 
(with turquoise, malachite, rock crystal, gold and silver), these 
already existed, as we have seen, in the time of the 'Warring 
States', but they become increasingly numerous and important 
under the Han. We may mention in particular a number of Han 
buckles, princely beyond a doubt, of large size, very sumptuous 
—in some cases of solid gold— inlaid with jade and secondarily 
with ivory and lacquered wood. 75 Of the same order is the solid 
gold belt buckle, enriched with turquoises and with the ornament- ■ 
ation of two dragons, which was found in the Nak-nang district 
(North Korea). 70 

Lemaitre, Les Agrafes Chinoises, Revue des Arts As/at/ques, 1939, p. 48. 
Cf. Minkenhof, An Exhibition of Chinese Belt-Buckles in America, Oriental Art, 
I. 4, 1949, pp. 161-165. 

w Lemaitre, Loc. cit., pi. ix. 

w Umehara, Decouvertes en Corce, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, III, 2, 1926, 
p. 28, pi. XI. 


To conclude, we may note that under the Han, buckles are 
more substantial, more solid, more 'monumental' than in the 
time of the 'Warring States', but that as they become increasingly 
symmetrical (and subsequently, more and more clumsy) they lose 
a good deal of their former fancifulness. And here again we 
encounter the whole characteristic tendency of Han art. 77 

The Korean excavations at Lo-lang furnish us with a reliable 
chronology for the Han style in the jades. 78 We here find the 
small funerary jades for the sealing of the nine orifices' (the 
purity of the jade was supposed to prevent the putrefaction of 
the corpse), notably the cicada placed on the mouth of the dead. 
Other Han jades have been found in Noin-Ula, in Mongolia 
(chronology established, as we have seen, by a lacquer of the 
year 2 B.C.). Whether they be plaques, the cosmic symbols pi and 
tsung, or ceremonial sword ornaments, the fantasy of 'Warring 
States' ornamentation gives way, here too, to a more regular and 
simpler geometry: the same evolution, in other words, as for 
the ornamentation of the bronze mirrors. Moreover, on several 
jade plaques we see the influence of the Han sculptures or reliefs 
manifesting itself, as for example on the stylized recumbent hogs 
of the Cernuschi Museum or on the 'white tiger' (Gieseler tiger) 
of the Guimet Museum. 79 

* * * 

It will be seen later that, towards the end of the dynasty of 
the Later Han, the Graeco-Buddhist influence was first to make 
itself felt (third century a.d.) in the south of Kashgar with the 

" As may be seen from the proposed dates (either "Warring States' or Han), 
accompanying plates 25-32 (pp. 31-62) of the Selected Chinese Antiquities from 
the Collection of Gustaf-Adolf. 

n Report of the Service of Antiquities, Archaeological Researches in the 
Ancient Lo-lang District, 1925-1927, vol. v, pis. 17 and 29. 

w See for the discrimination between Warring States jades and Han jades, 
the Selected Chinese Antiquities from the Collection of Gustav Adolf, pp. 81-100, 
pis. 40-54. 


'Gandharian' stuccos of Rawak near Khotan and the Tompeian* 
mural paintings of Miran, near Lop-nor. It should also be re- 
called that in the Altaic world the period of the Early Han had 
been contemporaneous, in central Siberia, around Minusinsk, with 
the last phaze of the civilization of 'Tagar if (third to first cen- 
turies B.C.), a civilization whose animal-style bronzes have a close 
chronological relation to a given phase of Ordos art, in Inner 
Mongolia. 80 In Upper Mongolia, south-east of Lake Baikal, in 
the lower basin of the Selenga, we know that the Troitskosavsk 
pieces are of a later date than 118 B.C. The Ordos country and 
the Selenga basin were then both inhabited by Hunnish tribes. 
On the other hand it seems probable that present-day Soviet Altai 
remained in the power of Indo-European tribes, related to the 
Scytho-Sarmatians of southern Russia, to the north of the Black 
Sea. But the animal-style art of the steppes, common to the Scytho- 
Sarmatians and to the Huns, likewise prevailed in the Altai. 81 
In this last region Soviet archaeologists discern first of all in the 
fifth-to-fourth centuries B.C. a culture that they label 'pre-Pasyryk', 
which is succeeded by that of Pasyryk and of Shibe, characterized 
by undeniable Graeco-Scythian influences springing from the Cri- 
mea, or Graeco-Iranian, springing from the Seleucid, Parthian 
and Bactrian world. The Pasyryk and Shib6 culture appears to 
have begun about the third century B.C., but it must have con- 
tinued throughout the whole period of the Former Han dynasty, 
since a Han lacquer of the years 86-48 B.C. has been found in 
the Shibe kurgan. 82 

" Chronology of Kiselev, Hlstolre de la Siberle Mhldlonale, pp. 144 ff. 

* a. Otto Manchen-Helfen, Die Trager des Tierstils im Osten, Wiener Bel- 
trage zur Kunst und Kultur Aliens, ix, 1935, p. 61. 

* Cf. Griaznov, Le Kourgane de Pasyryk, Leningrad, 1937; Laure Mor- 
genstern, Esthitlques ^Orient et ^Occident, Paris, 1937, p. 177 (on Pasyryk). 
Umehara, Northern Region Art Investigation, Tokyo, 1938, § 178, 61. H. Kuhn, 
Chronolpgie der Sino-Siberisschen Bronzen, Ipek, 1938, p. 62. Minns, Art of 
Northern Nomads, London, 1942, p. 19. A. Salmony, Sarmation Gold Collected 
by Peter the Great, Gazette des Beaux- Arts, 1949. 


* * * 

The four centuries of the Han Pax Sinica, like the four cen- 
turies of the Mediterranean Pax Romana, and for the same rea- 
sons, encouraged the development of a rich material civilization. 
In both cases the period of creative spontaneity — in the Mediter- 
ranean world the apogee of Athens and of Alexandria, in China 
the 'Warring States' — had ended. Gvilization passed through a 
stagnant and apparently happy period in which the luxury arts, 
on both sides, played a considerable role. The richness of the 
Han inlaid bronzes — inlaid with gold, silver, turquoise, mala- 
chite or rock crystal — reminds us of the love of precious substan- 
ces in Roman art at about the same period. It is curious to observe 
in this connection that the Han revealed their love of the po- 
lychrome not only in the inlaid bronzes but also in the coloured 
'glass beads' that had their origin in the Roman East. 83 The 
western origin of these 'marbles', so engagingly multi-colored, 
has been made even more evident by the discovery of specimens 
of these by the Aurel Stein Mission along the 'Silk Road 1 , in 
Eastern Turkestan, in particular in Lou-Ian, near Lop-nor. The 
chronology here, incidentally, is established by discoveries of si- 
milar glass beads in the Han excavations of the Lo-lang district, 
in Korea. Mr. Malleret, finally, has found specimens of these 
also in Cochin-China, in the Oc-eo excavations, where coins of 
the Antonines and a Chinese lacquer were simultaneously found. 

w C G.-Seligman and H. C Beck, Far Eastern Glass: Some Western Ori- 
gins, b.m.f.bjl, Stockholm, no. 10, 1938. But this study seems to prove that, 
as the Chin-ts'un finds show, the introduction of glass in China and even its 
manufacture appears to go back to the period of the barring States*. We must 
not forget, moreover, that Hellenistic expansion in Upper Asia began in the 
period of the Warring States. As a result of Alexander's conquests, the Greeks 
kept Bactria and Sogdiana (Balkh and Samarkand) for two centuries, from 329 to 
about 130 b.c. See also Dorothy Blair, An Exhibition of East Asiatic Glass, 
Art/bus Asiae, xi, 1948, p. 195. 


* * * 

Han pottery is known to us through an abundance of speci- 
mens that have come down to us. The vases imitate the forms 
of the bronzes of the same period, the hu 9 or the ting; and there 
are tripods, and cylindrical 'boxes' whose humped lids are adorn- 
ed with waves and rocks on which animals cavort (a theme, as 
we have seen, that represents 'the Isle of the Blessed' of 
Taoism), etc. The ornamentation is incised, moulded, or applied in 
relief. Handles (again as in the bronzes) in the form of t'ao-t'ieh, 
a frieze (also as in the Han bronzes) surrounding the belly show 
animals running and hunting scenes'. 84 The glazes often have a 
greenish tinge that also imitates the bronze. The appearance in 
China, in the period of the Former Han dynasty, under Han 
Wu-ti (140-87), of these lead glazes, fired at low heat, giving 
these green tints y is attributed to an Occidental influence. The 
process is presumed to have been imported from the West at the 
same time as the making of glass. Nevertheless 'the Chin-ts'un 
finds have revealed the use of glass in China and its manufac- 
ture in the country itself, from the time of the 'Warring States'. 85 

The period of the Han also witnessed the appearance in 
China (especially in South China) of pottery with a feldspathic 
glaze, baked at high temperature, which Berthold Laufer has 
named 'proto-porcelain'. 80 The pieces in question are 'a kind of 
stone ware, containing kaolin in an impure state and covered 
with an olive-green glaze derived from plant ash. Their forms 
differ from those traditionally attributed to the Han: globular 

81 David, La Ceramique Chinoise, Guide abrigi du Musei Guimet, in, p. 122 

* David, Loc. cit., A lead enamel vase, of the Nelson Rockhill Collection, 
of Kansas City, is presented as 'Warring States' by Honey, Far Eastern Ceramics, 
London, 1945. 

* The Chinese use the character tz'u for this 'proto-porcelain' as for true 
porcelain, while the character t'ao is kept for common pottery. 

28. Attributed to Ku K'ainhih [fourth tojifth century A. D.): The Ad- 
monitions of the Instructress (detail ) . Ink and color on silk. Un- 
doubtedly a copy of the T'ang Dynasty. British Museum, London. 

29. Horse, earthenware. Wei Dynasty* Art Institute, Chicago, Nick- 
erson Collection. 


vases with splayed-out necks, having plaited handles or handles 
formed of bastardized t'ao-t'ieh masks; the ornamentation, of 
wavy lines and stylized birds, is engraved under the glaze, which 
ends at mid-height'. 87 These Han proto-porcelains, which are 
chiefly found south of the Yang-tze, have a connection with the 
pottery produced by a non-Chinese people (likewise a porcella- 
neous stone-ware) found in 1929 in the Lamma Islands, near 
Hong Kong, as well as at Hai-f big in eastern Kwangtung, along 
with late eneolithic' tools. The pottery of the Lamma Islands, 
which has moulded ornamentation akin to the style of the 'War- 
ring States', and which must be due to cultural influences spread- 
ing from Chekiang to Annam, has been assigned to the Han 
period by Koyama and other Japanese experts. 88 

Mention should be made, finally, of other series of local pot- 
tery, found in Szechwan and studied by Cheng Te-k'un, namely, 
in the tombs of Li-fan, a grey pottery dating from the "Warring 
States' and the Former Han, and in the tombs of Hsin-chin, vases, 
models of houses, and statuettes of animals dating from the 
Later Han or the following period, that of the Six Dynasties. 89 

As for the decoration of the Han terra cotta vases, in parti- 
cular of the large hu with dark green glaze, it should be pointed 
out that on the hu the decoration, slightly raised in relief, is con- 
centrated on a wide band running round the belly of the vase. 
We see a chase, at times against a curious 'landscape' of cliffs 

87 David, hoc. ch. 9 p. 123. On the dating of the Yiieh proto-celadons, in 
Chekiang, which according to Brankston and Plumer go back to the Han, see 
Brankston, Yiieh Ware of the Nine Rocks, Burlington Magazine, lxxvti, 1938, 
no. 429, pp. 257-262. O. Karlbeck even wonders whether the proto-celadons of 
Yuen might not be 'Warring States' (Karlbeck, Early Yiieh Ware, Oriental Art, 
ii, 1, 1949, pp. 3-7). 

88 A link attested by the Matsumoto excavations of the cemeteries in the 
vicinity of Hangchow (Chekiang). On the discovery by Father Finn of a pottery 
of the Lamma type at Hai-feng (KwangtungX see R. Maglioni, Archaeological Finds 
in Hoifung, i, fasc. vm, 3-4, Hong-Kong, 1938. Cf. C. G. Seligman, Early Pottery 
from Southern China, Oriental Ceramic Society, 1935. 

* Cheng Te-k'un, Szechwan Pottery, London, 1948. 


or hills, of leaping animals — tigers, boars, goats, antelopes, etc. — 
or fantastic animals, both categories often pursued by mounted 
archers at a flying gallop, all of them, beasts and men, being 
treated with the same vigour, swept by the same impetus as on 
the inlaid bronzes or on the funerary bas-reliefs of Shantung. 

The same style inspires the 'hill-jars' symbolizing, in Taoist 
conceptions, the 'Isles of the Blessed*. The lid of the jar 
is raised in the form of a conical mountain {po-shan-lu) — the 
mountain of the Taoist paradises, the Isle of the Blessed, the 
peak of which, rising above the waves, is composed of a whirl 
of spirals, while its slopes are animated by a whole crowd of 
beasts and hunters. On the belly of the jar, a circular band repro- 
duces other similar scenes. 90 We may also note, on the bellies 
of the hill-jars as on those of the hu, highly simplified t'ao-t'ieh 
masks, bearing a ring, which are characteristic of the Han style. 
This, as we have already pointed out, is the culmination of the 
t'aoJieh motif, so powerfully invested with magical powers in 
the period of the Shang, then decomposed into serpentiform 
motifs in the time of the 'Warring States' and finally, under 
the Han, becoming nothing more than a purely ornamental, very 
sketchily drawn, mascaron. 

80 It should be recalled that the Han period has also left us hillain-jars 
of bronze. The Freer Gallery, in Washington, in particular has a bronze of this 
type, inlaid with gold, silver, turquoise and cornelian, with the usual combats 
of animals or fantastic creatures. 

Chapter Three 

The Fall of the Han and the Reversal of Values 

The dynasty of the Han collapsed in 220 A.D. and China found 
itself divided among three competing native houses — whence the 
name of 'Period of the Three Kingdoms' (San Kuo) applied to 
this age (220-280). One of these kingdoms was founded in 
North China by the family of the dictator Ts'ao Ts'ao; the 
second in South China, in Nanking, by another military chief; 
the third in Szechwan by the last representatives of the legiti- 
mate dynasty of the Han, whose power had collapsed in all other 
areas. The struggles among these Three Kingdoms furnished 
abundant matter for the epic romances of later epochs. In 280 
they were united by a family of mayors of the palace become 
monarchs, the Ssu-ma, which founded the imperial dynasty of 
the Chin, for a brief moment (280-316) ruling the whole Chinese 
territory once more unified. This unification did not last. By 316 
the Great Invasions began; the Tartars — Huns (ancestors of the 
Turks) and Proto-Mongols — seized all North China (the Yellow 
River basin), while the Chinese national empire was thrown 
back on Nanking, in South China. It was to require more than 
two centuries and a half for North China to assimilate and 
Sinicize its Tartar occupants and for Chinese unity to be re- 
established (589). 


* * * 

The fall of the Han empire cannot, any more than that of 
the Roman empire, be explained by solely political reasons. In 
both cases the prevailing moral order and the approved intel- 
lectual conformity were first to be challenged. Under the Later 
Han dynasty (25-220) material wealth had remarkably increased. 
During those two centuries, in the enjoyment of the Pax Sinica, 
the population had nearly doubled. If we invoke the testimony 
of art we find, as in the Roman empire of the same period, that 
creative spontaneity has been replaced by love of luxury, as is 
shown by the use of jewel inlays, by the love of precious ma- 
terials, by the heavy style of its riches. And yet, despite this ma- 
terial wealth, despite the reigning moral order and Confucianist 
conformity that officially prevailed, everything was being chal- 

We also have concerning this period — or rather, against 
it — acid satires, worthy of a Juvenal, entitled 'Criticisms of a 
hermit', the misanthropist in question being none other than 
Wang Fu, an embittered former official who has drawn up the 
indictment of his contemporaries. He inveighs against the neglect 
of agriculture, the flight from the land, the rush of the uprooted 
to the tentacular cities, the mercantilism, the frenzied luxury, 
all tendencies contrary to the Confucianist tradition. 1 We find 
the same satire in Chung-ch'ang Tung whose Sincere Words 
were written in 206: dissipation and luxury, the harem life led 
by the emperors, the omnipotence of the camarilla, the reckless 
luxury of courtiers and nobles — such, the author tells us, were 
the reasons for the rapid senescence of the Chinese imperial 
dynasties, today the Han, the house of Ts'ao Ts'ao tomorrow. 2 

1 Etienne Bakzs, La crise sociale et la philosophic politique a la fin des Han, 
Voung pao, xxxix, 1-3, 1949, pp. 95-105. 

* lbtd. y p. 126 (protests of moralist Chung-ch'ang Tung, about 210). 


In reality it was becoming increasingly difficult to justify the 
traditional social order. The growth of the large domains to the 
detriment of small property was leaving the peasantry with no 
other alternative but to abandon the land or to accept servitude. 
The great lords, who were the beneficiaries of this extension of 
the latifundia, nonetheless deserted their estates to go and reside 
most of the year at the imperial court, in Lo-yang, unconcerned 
by the poverty of the country people. In this same court of Lo- 
yang and in the other large cities, the scholars, removed from 
power by the camarilla, became an opposition intelligentsia, even 
forming 'leagues' of protest. Their remonstrances, disseminated 
by campaigns of pamphlets, took their cue from the agitation 
of the students. 'Often extremely poor, numbering as many as 
30,000, these students were forced to earn their living as crafts- 
men, farm workers or minor employees. Living among the peo- 
ple, they were familiar with their problems and their sufferings. 
They made their agitation felt throughout the empire' . s 'Thus', 
Etienne Balazs concludes, 'the scholar class (in other words the 
Confucianist circle), an offshoot of the dominant and owning 
class of the great landed proprietors, differentiated itself from 
it and opposed the revolting luxury of the great lords or of the 
newly rich as well as the corruption of the Court'. 

At Court, the camarilla represented by the eunuchs brought 
about the dissolution, in 166 A.D., of the association correspond- 
ing to the 'League for the Rights of Man' created by the 'Intel- 
lectuals'. But the social agitation continued. 'The people of the 
countrysides were ready to rise up against the intolerable exploi- 
tation of the great land-owners and against the vexatory exactions 
of the mandarins. The farming population lived in indescribable 
wretchedness. The free peasant was rapidly disappearing, reduced 
to joining the ranks of the agricultural proletariat'. This mass 
of tied serfs or of uprooted people was worked on by the Taoist 
brotherhoods. And this is where the course of Taoism which, 

a Ibid., p. 87. 


since its historic or legendary founders some six centuries before, 
had pursued underground channels, appears in broad daylight. 
These founders, as we have seen in connection with Chuang- 
tzu (died about 320 B.C.), had been men of pure speculation, 
indifferent to all social concerns and even at odds with society, 
dreamers who, in their sylvan retreats, were concerned only with 
achieving on a strictly individual level a mystic union with the 
Universal Force or tao. But through an unexpected combination 
of circumstances (as happens frequently enough with the found- 
ing of the great religions) this mystical theology that seemed to 
be addressed to the individual or at most to a few brotherhoods 
of initiates, spread to the point of assuming the scope of a broad 
popular movement. The ancient agrarian religion, on which the 
archaic Chinese society was founded, no longer satisfied the needs 
of the new age. Responding to the general anxiety, Taoism hence- 
forth presented itself as a religion of salvation, 'setting itself 
the goal', says Henri Maspero, c of leading its faithful to Eternal 
Life', a goal that no previous Chinese doctrine had even conceived 
of. 4 The achieving of immortality was subordinated to corporal 
techniques (control of breathing, fasting, etc.) or spiritual ones, 
even to spiritistic prescriptions. The secrets of these practices 
conferred unlimited occult powers, and an immense prestige as 
well, on the initiates to whom they were transmitted. 

A true Church grew up on these foundations, a whole hierar- 
chy of pontiffs, of initiates and of members of a 'third order', 
with rustic communities and phalansteries, meals taken in com- 
mon, religious offices and collective prayers, public confession of 
sins, purifications, penitences, charities. From the parish councils, 
directed by simple exorcists, to the highest dignitaries, thauma- 
turges and reputed magicians, this Church finally became, toward 
the end of the Han, a State within the State. It was a singularly 
active community, moreover, whose activities ranged from the 
worst sexual aberrations to the practice of the most disinterested 

4 Henri Maspero, Le Taoisme, Musee Guimet, 1950, p. 16. 


charity. In the face of the corruption and the growing slackness 
of the imperial administration under the last Han, the Taoist 
church, substituting itself for the official authorities, spontaneously 
and gratuitously took upon itself the works of public utility, 
maintenance of bridges and highways, embankments and canals, 
social welfare, etc., all practices that soon won the Taoists great 
popularity among the masses. 

In short, neo-Taoism thus conceived appeared as a religion 
of salvation, in certain respects somewhat similar to the doctrines 
that were then transforming the Mediterranean world. 

In 184 the Taoist communities passed over into action by 
announcing the coming of the 'Great Peace', that is to say the 
coming of the Millennium, the golden age, with equality among 
all men. The movement was led by the members of the Chang 
family, high dignitaries in the Taoist hierarchy, in particular by 
Chang Chiao, chief of the brotherhoods of the Great Plain as 
well as of the region of the Huai river, and by Chang Lu, chief 
of the communities of the West. 5 The insurgents were known 
as the 'Yellow Turbans' {Huang-chin) from the headgear that 
they had adopted as a rallying sign (yellow being the symbolic 
colour of the earth-element). At once the movement assumed the 
proportions of a peasant revolt — a mass uprising of the people 
on the land reduced to famine by the ruin of agriculture as well 
as by the oppression that both landlords and imperial tax-col- 
lectors exerted on them. It was quelled only by dint of a ruthless 
repression. But the mystical agitation that had accompanied it, 
the outbreak that it had given rise to, the destructions that it 
had caused, at many points irreparable, had thrown the govern- 
mental machine out of gear. The revolution had been put down 
only by calling upon the soldiery, that is to say, as so often in 
China in similar circumstances, only through the coming upon 
the scene of bold adventurers turned condottieri and having in 

• Ibid., p. 150 (Organisation des communautis Z V&poque des Turbans Jaunes). 
6 A. A. Ptetrov, Wang Pi, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1947, p. 77. 


fact brought together, for the service of their sole personal ambi- 
tion, some band made up of unscrupulous mercenaries, dispos- 
sessed peasants, vagabonds and intellectuals without employment. 

Typical of these Chinese condottieri, swept to the peak by 
the convulsions of the year 184, was the famous Ts'ao Ts'ao, 
who was destined to become the chief beneficiary of these events. 

The revolt, and perhaps even more the necessities of the 
repression, for a long time destroyed the fiction of conformity, 
the belief in the sovereign virtue of the Confucianist moral order. 
In face of the terrible necessities of the moment there was a return 
to political realism, indeed to the politician's cynicism that had 
flourished some five or six centuries earlier with the School of 
Jurists, in the era of the Warring States. The theory, as it hap- 
pened, had shortly before been refurbished by Ts'ui Shih (about 
110-170) whose treatise On Politics was but a protest against the 
supporters of Confucianist routine. 7 

The typical product of this troubled age was, as we have said, 
Ts'ao Ts'ao (155-220), an outstanding figure whom a contem- 
porary thus defined: 'A vile bandit in a period of calm, a heroic 
leader in a world in upheaval'. 8 Having distinguished himself 
in the repression of the Yellow Turbans, he became prominent 
at the Court of the last Han. Soon he assumed the role of a kind 
of omnipotent mayor of the palace, murdering the members of 
the imperial family who stood in his way and leaving the last 
phantom emperor (whom he had made his son-in-law) only with 
a shadow of power. It was left to his eldest son Ts'ao P'ei to eli- 
minate the Han dynasty outright and to make himself emperor 

T Balaas, Let arise sociale, p. 109. 

8 On Ts'ao Ts'ao, see the article by Balazs in Monumenta Serica, 2, 1937, 

30. Buddha, stone relief, style of Yun-kang. Norttiern Wei Dynasty, 
fifth century A. D. Musie Guimet, Paris, Dai/id- Weill Collection. 

31. The Empress and Donor with Attendants, stone relief, from the Pin- 
yang cave at Lung-men, Honan {detail). Sixth century A. D. 
Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 


of China (at least, as we shall see, of North China) as founder 
of the Wei dynasty (220 A.D.). 

Ts'ao Ts c ao is one of the great figures of Chinese history. 
A man of action, a war-lord, an unscrupulous adventurer, fearless 
and fiery, with the aspirations of a superman, he was at the 
same time a great poet, full of creative power and of imagina- 
tion. With his two sons, the future emperor Ts'ao P'ei (187-226) 
and Ts'ao Chih (192-232), poets like himself, he blazed a new 
trail for Chinese lyricism. 'In his poems and in those of his 
sons', Odile Kaltenmark writes, new themes appear that were 
to remain the favorite subjects of the finest Chinese poetry: 
descriptions of landscapes, swift anecdotes, laments on the evils 
of war. This poetry is incomparably more personal than that 
which preceded it'. 9 The impression produced by this lyricism 
of action, masculine to the point of appearing Nietzschean, is 
the more penetrating as we discern in this strong man, like an 
accompaniment to all his thoughts, a poignant sense of the pas- 
sage of time, of ever-present death and of the world's vanity. 

Ts'ao Ts'ao and his two sons were remarkable not only for 
the quality of their poetry but also, in respect to the other con- 
temporary poets, for the splendour of their patronage. The lite- 
rature of the time, known as c Chien-an literature' (196-219), has 
remained famous in Chinese tradition. Apart from the 'three 
Ts'ao', the most highly reputed of the 'seven poets of the Chien- 
an period' (and who held high office under Ts'ao Ts'ao himself) 
is Wang Ts'an (177-217). Wang Ts'an 'expressed the sufferings 
of this troubled period with a true dramatic sense'. 1 " One of his 
most famous works, the 'poem of the seven sorrows', describes 

9 On Ts'ao Ts'ao as poet, see the article by Balazs, Zwei Lieder, loc. cit., 
and Steinen, Poems of Ts'ao Ts'ao, Monumenta Seriea, 1939-1940, pp. 125-181. 
Ts'ao Ts'ao's famous poem, the Tuan ke hsing or 'Over wine in the presence of 
song', is translated both by Wieger, La Chine a travers les ages, p. 128, English 
ed. China throughout the ages, Hsien-hsien Press, 1928, p. 126, and by Sung-nien 
Hsu, Anthologie de la UtteWature chinoise, p. 119. 

10 O. Kaltenmark-Ghequier, La literature chinoise, Paris, 1948, p. 54. 



for us in particular the desolation of the imperial capital, Sianfu 
(or Ch'ang-an), after the ravages of the Yellow Turbans and 
the terror of the population fleeing before the marauding bands. 

Ts'ao Ts'ao also protected a poetess of great talent, Ts'ai 
Yen. As a young woman she had been carried off by a foray of 
Huns. One of the Hun chiefs married her. She had children by 
him. Then Ts'ao Ts'ao intervened to have her returned to China. 
After her return to her homeland, after such a long absence, 
she wrote a poignant 'song of distress' in which she describes 
for us the attacking Hun horsemen, her ravishment, her home- 
sickness in the heart of the Mongolian steppe, among the barbar- 
ians whose life she shared, then her return, her sadness at find- 
ing men and things so changed in China, and above all her grief 
at having had to leave in Mongolia the children she had had by 
the savage chieftain: 'I dearly loved my two little Huns'! 11 

Another writer of this time, the moralist Chung-ch'ang Tung, 
was called, at the age of thirty, about 210, to the side of Ts'ao 
Ts'ao to join, says Bala2s, 'the brain trust that the great adven- 
turer had the cleverness to gather around him'. The Sincere 
Words that he has left us is a searing denunciation which disclo- 
ses the underlying reasons for the fall of the Han — the degrada- 
tion of power, the degeneration of the dynasty in the artificial 
'harem' life — causes of decadence that, after consummating the 
ruin of the Han, were shortly to consummate that of Ts'ao 
Ts'ao's heirs as well: 'Everything collapses and falls apart, and 
one fine day the dynasty is no more'. After surveying the disasters 
caused by the uprising of the Yellow Turbans — cities reduced 
to ruins, whole regions depopulated — Chung-ch'ang T 'ung, real- 
istic sociologist though he was, and belonging to the school of 
innovators, concludes on a note of anguish: 'I know not whither 
we are going'. 12 

China was heading for four centuries of anarchy, of civil 

11 Sung-Nien Hsu translation, op. r//., p. 111. 
73 See Balazs, La crise sociale, p. 125. 


wars, of invasions and foreign occupation. — Civil war first of 
all. While the house of Ts'ao Ts'ao was consolidating its sway 
over North China, another military chief, Sun Ch'iian, was estab- 
lishing himself in Nanking and in the rest of South China, 
Szechwan excepted. In Szechwan a last member of the Han im- 
perial family, Liu Pei, had assembled those who remained faith- 
ful to the fallen dynasty. Legally the sole legitimate sovereign, 
he found all the loyalists, all the noble hearts' of his time, 
gathering round him, from the great statesman Chu-ko Liang 
(181-234) to the paladins Kuan Yii (died 219) and Chang Fei 
(died 22 1). 13 The last two were truly valiant knights, devoted 
to the death to the cause of the legitimate dynasty, who did in 
fact perish as victims of their fidelity. The fiction and drama that 
have immortalized their memory have done no more than develop 
the theme of the prowesses that history attributes to them. So 
venerated was their memory that Kuan Yii was subsequently 
canonized as god of war — as god of just wars, be it understood, 
a kind of Far Eastern Bayard, having assumed in the popular 
pantheon something of the role of a Saint George, the mainstay 
of widows and orphans, the redressor of wrongs, whose flaming 
sword makes justice prevail on earth. 

The period of the 'Three Kingdoms' (San-kuo) (from 220 
to either 265 or, better, 280) thus saw China divided between 
the house of Ts'ao Ts'ao in the North, the house of Sun Ch'iian 
in Nanking and the last Han emperors in Szechwan. It is a 
period, as we have said, that has left an extraordinarily vivid 
memory in the Chinese epic novel and heroic drama, with its 
well-defined characters: Kuan Yii and Chang Fei, the fearless 
and irreproachable heroes, wholly dedicated to honour and the 
defense of the law, and in opposition to them Ts'ao Ts'ao, the 

18 See in Margoulies, Le Kou-wen Chlnois, Paris, 1926, p. 112, the text 
of two 'recommendations to the emperor* attributed to Chu-ko Liang, which 
give an idea of the personality of this great man. Chu-ko Liang, from 208 to his 
death in 234, was the most zealous— and after 222 the only— supporter of the 
cause of legitimacy. 


typical usurper, who has become the traitor of melodrama and 
the genius of evil. 14 

This rattle of swords must not make us lose sight of the 
economic evolution in progress that was definitively to undermine 
the foundations of the old Chinese society. The insurrection of 
the Yellow Turbans, beneath its Taoist ideology, had been an 
immense peasant revolt. Abandoned by the central government 
to the caprices of the great landlords, the peasants had attempted 
to overthrow society. They had been vanquished. The Wei kings, 
of the house of Ts'ao Ts'ao, hastened to reestablish and streng- 
then the seigniorial system, the whole system of tenures that the 
peasant revolt had tried to abolish. Enormous 'fiefs' were con- 
ceded to the landlords with absolute power over their peasants. 15 

This marked reaction coincided with a general impoverish- 
ment. As a result of the revolt of the Yellow Turbans that had 
amounted to a social war, then as a result of the civil war that 
had continued uninterruptedly during the whole period of the 
Three Kingdoms, the population had diminished to incredible 
proportions. The censuses for the Empire give 56,486,856 inhab- 
itants for the year 157, and 16,163,863 for 280. Even allowing 
for the fact that, through fear of the imperial taxation or seignior- 
ial oppression, a part of the population liable to taxes or forced 
labour may have eluded the census-takers, the demographic drop 
is none the less certain. 16 

The Great Crumbling. Period of the Six Dynasties 

While the last pro-Han legitimists were to preserve the admir- 
ation of posterity, through history and legend, their efforts had 
by no means succeeded in arresting the course of events. The 

14 See Ou Itai, Le toman chinois, Paris, 1933, p. 59. Mien Tcheng, Ripertoire 
du thiatre chinois moderne, Paris, 1929, pp. 35-38. 

13 A. A. Petrov, 'Wang Pi', Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1947. 

M Lien-Sheng Yang, Notes on the Economic History of the Chin Dynasty, 
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, DC, 1945-47, p. 113. 


strong man, the signal destiny that dominated and moulded his 
century, remains Ts'ao Ts'ao. Nevertheless the astounding 'rom- 
antic' poet who, setting all scruple aside, placed himself upon 
the throne, founded nothing that was to endure. It is true that 
immediately after his death his son was to occupy the throne 
itself, but only North China was to recognize the authority of 
his house. Then, under the influence of court life that caused 
the downfull of the Han, Ts'ao Ts'ao's descendants were to be 
the victims of an even more rapid degeneration. And immediately 
history was to repeat itself against them. Their mayors of the 
palace, great officers of the Ssu-ma family, arrogated to them- 
selves the heredity of their office, then seized the throne (265). 
Since the Ssu-ma had previously conquered the legitimist Han 
kingdom of Szechwan (263) and likewise, shortly after, con- 
quered the southern kingdom of Nanking (280), they found 
themselves at the head of a reunified China. There were grounds 
for believing that their house— which assumed the imperial title 
of the Chin dynasty and was to last from 265 to 420 — would 
restore the Pax Sinica of the Han period. Such was not the case. 
No family, under the influence of the court life, degenerated 
more rapidly than did the Ssu-ma, once they became Chin em- 
perors. This 'Byzantine Empire', by its feebleness, provoked the 
Far Eastern Great Invasions. Beginning in 316, the Turko-Mon- 
golian hordes seized North China where they succeeded one an- 
other in a chaos of ephemeral barbarian royalties that mutually 
destroyed one another and the country with them. Before the 
invasion, the emperors of the Ssu-ma or Chin house sought re- 
fuge in Nanking, whence they continued to govern South China. 
The fact to remember is that the true China, North China, 
that is to say the Yellow River basin, had fallen into the hands 
of the Barbarians, in this case the Turko-Mongolians. These, 
indeed, were never to be expelled. While, as we have said, their 
numerous hordes mutually destroyed one another, that of the 
T'o-pa (or Tabghatch), whose kings assumed the Chinese name 
of Wei, was able to maintain itself until its extinction (398- 


557). 17 True enough, it became so thoroughly assimilated in the 
end, so completely Chinese that later annalists quite legitimately 
granted it letters of naturalization. 

During this time Chinese independence, as we have also seen, 
had taken refuge in South China, with Nanking as its capital. 
Now South China, as has been pointed out, was a new China, 
a 'colonial' China, a territory of another race that had only since 
the Han been Sinicized. 'Chinese imperiality', by taking refuge 
there, incidentally contributed to completing its Sinization. How- 
ever, the dynasties that succeeded one another on the Nanking 
throne after the Chin, and that were in effect national, fell one 
after another, like the Chin, into an incredibly rapid degenera- 
tion. Imperial adolescents rotten with wholesale vices, turpitudes 
and crimes blooming in the artificial 'seraglio* life, mutual family 
massacres that in a few years extinguished the successive dyn- 
asties — such is the spectacle afforded us by this Chinese national 
survival, miraculously preserved behind the Yangtze barrier, shel- 
tered from the invasions, in the provinces recently colonized. 

Moreover, the Great Invasions had caused an immense disturb- 
ance throughout the whole of society. At the time of the occu- 
pation of North China by the Huns, in 316, a tumultuous exodus 
had swept enormous numbers into the provinces of the Yangtze. 

17 The language of these To-pa was essentially Turkish with a certain 
admixture of Mongol elements (Peter Boodberg, "The Language of the To-pa 
Wei', Harvard Journal of Astatic Studies, 1936, p. 185). From the recent study 
undertaken by Louis Bazin it appears that in the titles and names of offices among 
the To-pa are to be found 73 % of proto-Turkish words and 15% of proto- 
Mongol words. For the names of the To-pa tribes, 56'% of proto-Turkish names, 
42 % of proto-Mongoi names and 2 '% of proto-Tungus names. The terms of 
civilization and administrative language are essentially proto-Turkish. In short the 
framework and majority of words was proto-Turkish, with a minority of proto-Mon- 
gol ones and insignificant proto-Tungus elements. The whole disappeared before the 
Sinization ordered by king To-pa Hung (471-479) who forbade all his household 
to speak To-pa and enjoined them to speak nothing but Chinese (Louis Bazin, 
'Recherches sur les parlers To-pa*, T'oung Pao, xxxix, 1950, p. 320). On the 
To-pa in general, W. Eberhard, Das Toba-Reict> Nord Chinas: eine soziologische 
Untersucbung, Leiden, 194?, 


Among the ruling classes there were between 60 and 70 percent 
of emigres. It may be estimated that one million Northerners 
thus came and sought refuge on the Yangt2e. ls Such a congestion 
of 'displaced persons' produced terrible eddies, and to begin with 
gave rise to anguishing economic problems. All these emigres 
had to be housed. For some time they were inclined to consider 
their situation to be temporary, continuing to hope that the court 
of Nanking would reconquer the North and restore to them 
their former domains. This attitude, besides, enabled them to 
evade many a tax obligation. It was only from the years 364-412 
onward that the Nanking government, by finalizing their status, 
succeeded in imposing full civic obligations upon them. But it 
had previously been necessary to distribute new latifundia to 
these emigr6 nobles. More than ever, the great families had at 
their beck and call a whole population of hereditary 'clients' 

in North China — original China — the Hunnish occupation 
had produced a cultural regression of which the annalists have 
left us horror-stricken descriptions. A few Hun princes with a 
veneer of Chinese culture tried to give a false impression. The 
first of these, Liu Ts'ung, the chief of the victorious invasions 
of 316, had not long before, as a federated Barbarian, attended 
the imperial Court. 20 Another Hun king, Shin Lo (319-333), 
who set himself up after him in the Yellow River provinces, 
was not averse, on occasion, to listening to the Scholars. In real- 
ity the government of these Barbarian chiefs remained purely 
military. A chaos, an indescribable wretchedness prevailed 
throughout North China. Everywhere the 'racial' incompatibility 
between the Chinese population and the Hun occupants made 
itself felt. 21 

18 Lien-Sheng Yang, Op. cit., p. 115. 
* Lien-Sheng Yang, Op. cJt., p. 116. 

30 W. Eberhard, Liu Yuan und Liu Ts'ung, Ankara, 1942. 
M Arthur Frederick Wright, Fo-t'u-teng, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 
1948, p. 322. 


Only the Buddhist missionaries attempted to tame these Bar- 
barians. One of them, Fo-t u teng, or Fo-t u-ch'en (undoubtedly 
from Kucha), had arrived in China on the very eve of the inva- 
sion, in 310. He remained there and managed to win the respect 
of the Hun king Shih Lo, and even of that prince's successor, 
the savage Shih Hu. Shih Hu (334-349)— in other respects a 
monster of cruelty — allowed Fo-t'u teng to extract from him an 
edict in favor of the Buddhist missions. 22 We shall come back 
later to the civilizing work thus undertaken by Buddhism among 
the Barbarians. 

* * * 

At the same time that the political order of the Han had 
collapsed, Confucianism to which it was so closely linked had 
experienced a sharp setback. From the time of emperor Han 
Wu-ti (140-87 B.C.) to the convulsions of the third century A.D., 
the Confucianist scholars had held the public offices and been 
in charge of administration. From the last years of the second 
century A.D. we again witness the rise of a very powerful landed 
nobility that seized all the key posts. The overwhelming majo- 
rity of scholars, no longer having access to public office — at least 
to the most important offices — found itself reduced to a some- 
times wretched life. Confucianism, an essentially official doctrine, 
fell into discredit, for it no longer had any reason d'etre for 
people who had been shorn of public responsibilities'. 28 

From this discredit the 'religions of salvation' were to ben- 
efit — neo-Taoism first, and then Buddhism. 

During those troubled times, Taoism did exert a considerable 
influence. But by this very token it underwent a curious transfor- 
mation. The Supreme Principle, the Tao of the ancient sages, 
the cosmic Urge or Vital Urge, previously conceived as a pure 

" Idem, p. 325. 

M O. Kalteamark, Utthature chinohe, p. 57. 

32. Buddhist stele, black stone. Wei Dynasty, c. 535-540 A. D. Nelson 
Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 

33. Prabhutaratna and Sakyamuni, gilt-bronze shrine. 518 A. D. 
Musie Guimet, Paris. 


Unknowable, now became a kind of personal god, assuming a 
human form, the 'Lord of Tao\ Tao-cb&n. Lao-tzu, the legen- 
dary founder of Taoism, was now presented as an incarnation of 
the 'Lord of Tao\ descended on earth to enlighten men. 24 Other 
incarnations, other descents from Heaven to Earth, followed or 
were to follow, soon creating a whole pantheon of genii and of 
Immortals (Hsien), beginning with the canonical 'Eight Immor- 
tals'. 25 These Immortals could be directly invoked and their 
intercession might obtain for the faithful his own accession to 
blissful immortality. In the face of the disappearance of the 
ancient religion, the neo-Taoism of the Six Dynasties thus ap- 
pears as a personal religion, a religion of salvation, responding 
to the needs of the new times. 

* * * 

The literature of the end of the Three Kingdoms and of the 
beginning of the Six Dynasties is deeply impregnated with neo- 
Taoism. 26 One of the most famous poets of the period, Hsi K'ang 
(223-262), composed a Dissertation on the Nourishment of the * 
Vital Principle, a treatise on dietetics and control of breathing 
for the achievement of Taoist immortality. His songs in praise of 
nature and of wine also show a markedly Taoist inspiration. 
Hsi K'ang, together with six other poet-friends, had founded the 
'Bamboo Forest Club*. 'They would walk while conversing in the 
grove, would stop for refreshment, would then resume their walk 
and, having drunk, conversed, composed verses, they would go 
to die tavern and become thoroughly intoxicated'. 27 Despite his 

34 Henri Maspero, Le taoteme, p. 28. 

* See Henri Maspero, Les ivoires chinois et Ficonographie populate,- Les 
Religions Chinoises, p. 229- 

18 On the intellectual 'climate* of this period, see in particular A. A. Petrov, 
'Wang Pi*, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1947, p. 77. Also T'ang Yung- 
T'ung, Wang Pi's New Interpretation of the I-ching and Lun-yu, Ibid., p. 124, 

27 Maspero, Le taoisme, p. 65. 


detachment from public affairs, Hsi K'ang was put to death for 
having borne witness, at a trial, in favour of a friend unjustly 
accused. 'Even as he was being led to his execution he still played 
the lute as he gazed at a ray of sunlight'. 

Among the 'Sages of the Bamboo Forest' we find other true 
poets, like Shan Tao (205-283) who, less faithful than his friend 
Hsi K'ang to a life of independence, became caught up in a career 
bringing official honors; Yuan Chi (210-263) who, long before 
the Tang poets, developed the theme of man lost in the world's 
immensity; Liu Ling (about 265) who composed songs 'in praise 
of wine' : 'Wine is a noble master for whom Heaven and Earth 
are but a morning, for whom eternity is but a moment'. 

In the following generation, under the reign of the Chin em- 
perors of the Ssu-ma house and while these princes still held 
sway over all China (Northern or Western Chin, 265-316), we 
find great poets of similar inspiration flourishing at their court 
of Lo-yang. 'When two poets, the brothers Lu Chi (261-303) and 
Lu Yiin (262-303), presented themselves at the court of Lo-yang, 
the minister Chang Hua (232-300), himself a great scholar and 
poet, welcomed them saying that the arrival of such learned men 
was a greater boon for the State than the conquest of Nanking'. 
Lu Chi was a great lyric poet who contrasted the beauty of the 
outer world with the melancholy of the human heart. 

Once North China had fallen into the hands of the Turko- 
Mongolian hordes, the scholars took refuge, with the Chin em- 
perors, in the latter's new residence, in Nanking (316). And 
here again it was Taoism that predominated, as may be seen 
from the themes that inspired the poet Tao Yuan-ming, also 
called Tao Ch'ien (from 365 or 372 to 427), the greatest lyric 
poet between the Han and the Tang. As a figure he is particularly 
interesting, besides, as representing this 'period of fusion', for 
he was a scholar of completely Confucianist culture, a Taoist in 
temperament as in inspiration, and at the same time, even at 
this early date, immersed in Buddhist religiosity. But the Confu- 
cianist official in him was no match for the Taoist, full of inde- 


pendence, humour and imagination. Thus he resigned from his 
post as sub-prefect rather than comply with the formalities of 
protocol before an inspecting governor. In the Taoist manner he 
wrote about his country house, the fallow fields, the momentary 
escape that intoxication provides. In a few lines he has sketched 
landscapes suffused with poetic feeling, glimpses of distances in 
a countryside blurred by mist, with scattered hamlets from which 
an occasional spiral of smoke rises. An anticipation of Tang 
poetry, of the Sung landscapists.... 

We find the same landscapes, with more delicate or more 
studied touches, in Hsieh Ling-yiin (385-433). All the classical 
themes of descriptive lyricism are here represented : The monkey- 
cries in the forest announce that dawn is at hand; the first rays 
have not yet pierced through; on the hilltop the cloud forms and 
the dew moistens the blossoms. I follow tie sinuous line of the 
hill. I cross the cascading torrent. I climb over the wooden foot- 
bridge'. And in the midst of this delicate and romantic landscape, 
Hsieh Ling-yiin imagines that he perceives some Taoist Immor- 
tal, draped in grasses and vines. We may conclude that Taoist 
revery has in large part inspired the Chinese feeling for nature 
and, subsequently, the Chinese landscape. 

We may note, moreover, that neo-Taoism did not spurn the 
great spiritual flights of earlier thinkers. One of the best prose- 
writers of the Six Dynasties, an author of tales, Ko Hung (born 
about 250, died between 325 and 336) was both a metaphysician, 
still in the tradition of Chuang-tzu, and the author of a treatise 
on alchemy, in quest of a drinkable gold that confers immor- 
tality. Ko Hung also concerned himself with magic recipes for 
exorcizing demons. He had a great deal to do with establishing 
the Taoist pantheon that was to influence, as we shall see, the 
art of the Six Dynasties. To complete his quest for immortality, 
he went to live as a hermit in the mountains of the Canton 

Apart from these religious concerns, the period of the Six 
Dynasties is marked by 'its almost exclusive interest in literary 


beauty, its aesthetic tendency'. 28 Among the sources of inspira- 
tion of the Six Dynasties pretty women hold an important place 
— a new phenomenon in Chinese poetry, for the Confucianist 
scholars of the previous period were disposed to celebrate only 
conjugal love or friendship among philosophers. In contrast, 
'in the palaces of the Nanking emperors, under the dynasty of 
the Liang (502-557) and especially under the Ch'en (557-589), 
the beauty and the sentiments of the women of the Court began 
to be depicted in elegant verses. This is what is called the style 
of the palaces (kung-t'i). Several of the Liang or Ch'en sover- 
eigns liked to compose poems of this type, which were probably 
accompanied by music'. 29 

The founder of the Liang dynasty, emperor Liang Wu-ti who 
reigned in Nanking from 502 to 549, has left us some charming 
and fragile poems in this manner, 'clay medals' that prefigure 
the feminine statuettes of the T'ang period: 

'Sure of the love of her well-beloved, she wishes to advance, 
but timidity holds back her steps. Her ruby lips murmur passion- 
ate songs and her fingers, smooth as jade, strum on the strings 
airs that charm the ear. The fragrance of the blossoms rises from 
the steps and steals into her garments. How beautiful is spring! 
How can we moderate the love that stirs our heart?' 30 

It was Liang Wu-ti himself who declared, 'If I had to go 
three days without reading Hsieh T'iao's poems, I should lose 
my taste for food'. Hsieh T'iao's verses, it is true, are of very 
great beauty: 81 'The chain of mountains stretches for a hundred 
//. Its peaks pierce the clouds. There the hermits have found 
shelter, there the spirits of the Immortals hide. Below the wind- 
ing river coils. The trees hold out their twisted branches. Im- 
mense banks of mist and rain obscure the sky. I seek the desert- 

M O. Kaltenmark, Litterature chinoise, p. 57. 

» Ibid., p. 57. 

* Sung-Nien Hsii (trans.), Anthologle de la Uttkraiure chinoise, p. 131. 

" Hsieh Tiao, date uncertain (464-499?). 


ed paths. I walk along a river whose source I cannot reach. The 
road by which I must return vanishes in the distance'. 32 All the 
elements of the Sung landscape are already here present. We can 
see how much Chinese sensibility owes to the period of the Six 

One of Liang Wu-ti's sons, the imperial prince Hsiao T ung 
(501-531), is the author of a famous anthology, the Wen-Hsiian, 
in which he has collected texts 'chosen solely by reason of their 
beauty, to the exclusion of canonical literature'. Such a state of 
mind clearly reveals the tendencies of the period: poems express- 
ing the soul of landscapes and the melancholy of distances or 
court poems celebrating the elegance of pretty women — in these 
we have a prefiguration of the whole literature of the Tang. 

Along with this court poetry that flourished in the Nanking 
palaces in the sixth century, there was an outcropping of popular 
songs, or rather of little poems imitating the popular songs and 
designated as 'Songs of Tzu-yeh', because the most ancient of 
these quatrains were attributed to a girl so named. 33 To the Six 
Dynasties is also attached an oft-quoted poem, a kind of 'epic 
ballad', the poem of Mu-lan, a young heroine who took part, 
disguised as a man, in the great Tartar wars on the northern 
frontiers. An epic vein that here again announces a whole aspect 
of the great Tang poetry. 

* * * 

The art of the Six Dynasties, to the extent to which it was not 
(and, as we shall see, it was) renewed by the inrush of Buddhist 
concepts, continues the Han art of the last phase with a special 
influence of neo-Taoist mythology. This is seen in particular in 
the mirrors of this period, on which we observe, in series that 

Sung-Nien Hsu, loc. r//., p. 132. 

Tzu-yeh's dates are uncertain, and range between 265 and -1S6... 


already appeared at the end of the Han, seated little Taoist 
figures — genii, Immortals or thaumaturges — either in a horizon- 
tal row or, more often, forming a circle, frequently with series 
of dragons interspersed. 34 These mirrors are frequently inscribed, 
one of the peripheral registers being adorned with scrolls fram- 
ing Chinese characters in square graph. In these mirrors may be 
noted the accentuation of the late Han style, with a rigid arran- 
gement of the various elements, a heaviness in the motifs and, 
when Taoist figures are. represented, great crowding. By a curious 
coincidence (from which, however, it would not be legitimate to 
conclude that there was penetration of influences), we here find 
the same degeneration with multiplicity, crowding, sketchy treat- 
ment of the figures as in the art of the Roman Lower Empire 
of the fourth and fifth centuries. 

In non-Buddhist statuary, the period of the Six Dynasties pro- 
duced chimeras or winged lions, in the round, of monumental 
dimensions, which adorn the sepulchres of the Nanking empe- 
rors (Sung, Ch'in, Liang and Ch'en dynasties), those in particular 
of emperor Sung Wen-ti (died in 453), of emperor Qi'i Wu-ti 
(died in 493), of duke Hsiao Hsiu (died in 518), of prince Hsiao 
Tan (died in 522), of marquess Hsiao Ching (died in 528), and 
of emperor Liang Wu-ti (died in 549), the last four sepulchres 
belonging to the Liang dynasty ( 502-5 56). S5 As we know, the 
lion was unknown to the Chinese fauna, as well as to the Gan- 
getic and Deccan fauna. The image of the lion came from Wes- 
tern Asia, specifically from Iran. It is found, as we have seen, 
as early as in the Han period, in Wu-liang-tz u (147 A.D.) where 
a tomb-guardian lion, in the round, already shows all the move- 

** Series of mirrors of the Six Dynasties in the large catalogue of the Sumitomo 
collection, Senoku-seisbo, Additional Volumes. II, Ancient Mirrors, figs. 110-124. 

* See Mathias Tchang, Tombeaux des Leang, Shanghai, 1912. Segalen, Lar- 
tjgue, De Voisins, Mission Arcbiologique en Chine, Atlas, Vol. n, 1924. Vadime 
Elisseeff, in the collective volume, Victor Sigalen, 1937, p. 81. 


ment of the Liang winged lions or chimeras.-™ But it was the 
Nanking dynasties, in the fifth and sixth centuries, that gave to 
this theme its full splendor. With their formidable mouths from 
which protrudes an outstretched tongue, with their heads held 
high or slightly turned to the side, with their swelling chests, 
their front paws ready to spring, and the towering menace of 
their whole fore-quarters, these majestic beasts, both realistic and 
fantastic, truly belong to great art. 

Chinese sculpture in the round has here sloughed off its ma- 
trix; it has liberated itself from the trammels that had subjected 
it to the marble or limestone block through the Shang and Han 
periods. This is all the more remarkable in view of the fact that 
this type of winged lion or chimera, springing forth in an atti- 
tude of menace for the guarding of tombs, quickly deteriorated 
in quality after a trial period at the beginning of the Tang, when 
the quality was still high. We are here at an apogee of non- 
Buddhist Chinese sculpture. It is particularly interesting to note 
that the most powerful of these sculptures date from emperor 
Liang Wu-ti (502-549), an appealing personality, a noble cha- 
racter, a brooding spirit, who successively explored all the intel- 
lectual positions of his time, from Confucianism and Taoism to 
Buddhism, in the search for truth. 

* * * 

The period of the Six Dynasties is no less interesting from 
the point of view of the history of ceramics. The province of Che- 
kiang that had been since the beginning a centre of original pro- 
ductions, witnessed at this time the development of the proto- 
celadons in porcellaneous stoneware, known as Yueh, which 
form the transition between the Han proto-porcelains of the 

m Reproduction in Siren, A History of Early Chinese Art, London, 1928. 
Vol. in, pi. 6. 


same region and the celadons properly so called of the Sung 
period. In 1937, Brankston unearthed the vestiges of a proto- 
celadon kiln in Chu-yen-chen, near Yang-chou (mouth of the 
Yangtze). 37 The Japanese professor Manzo Nakao had discov- 
ered other similar kilns between Shao-hsing and Ning-po, in 
Chekiang, and Koyama mentions another in the district of Te* 
ching. 38 Brankston and Plumer put the origin of these proto- 
celadons of Chekiang as far back as the Han period. Karlbeck 
even wonders if the first proto-celadons of Yiieh do not go back 
to the 'Warring States'. 39 In any case, it is in the period of the 
Six Dynasties that these proto-celadons seem to have had their 
full development. 

The terra cotta funerary statuettes {ming-ch'i) of this period 
clearly mark the transition between the similar figurines of the 
Han period and those of the Tang. In the absence of methodical 
excavations, we are often not in a position to say which (like 
the great funerary sculptures of the Nanking region) derive from 
the imperial and Chinese national dynasties of the South, and 
which are those that should be assigned to North China, occupied 
since 316 by the Turko-Mongolian hordes in the process of 
becoming Sinicized. 

The terra cottas of the Six Dynasties seem to have added to 
the representations of the usual animals (horses, dogs, swine) 
certain new creatures, certain new monsters: small chimera 
(which, like the giant chimera of the imperial tombs of Nan- 
king, were to guard the tomb), rhinoceros, camels. Osvald Sir&i 

* Brankston, Yueh ware in the Nine Rocks, Burlington Magazine, lxxiii, 
no. 429, 1938, pp. 257-262. 

* Y. Matsudaira, Oriental Ceramics, 1936. Site visited by Plumer in 1937 
{Illustrated London News, March 15 and 20 1937). 

* O. Karlbeck, Early Yueh Ware, Oriental Art, h, 1, pp. 3-7. 

34. Maitreya, stone. Northern Wei Dynasty, sixth century A. D. 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 


has aptly remarked that the camels of the Six Dynasties, heavy, 
squat, unprepossessing, with knotty legs, show a realism and 
picturesqueness that form a marked contrast, in our show-cases, 
with the fine camels of the following period, that of the Tang, 
which are so decorative. As for the horses of the Six Dynasties, 
we must remember as we look at them that in this period (from 
316 on) all North China — that is to say the entire Yellow River 
basin — was, as we have just seen, occupied by hordes of Tartar 
horsemen, Huns and other Turko-Mongolians who followed one 
upon another for two centuries. When one of these Altaic tribes, 
that of the To-pa (or Tabghatch), between 396 and 439, had 
absorbed the other hordes and imposed unity on North China 
under its own domination, it continued for a long time and in 
spite of its rapid Sinisation to be a great military power. 41 * Try 
as they might, until their extinction in 557, to appear as Chinese 
monarchs, under the Chinese name of Wei, they could not help 
remembering the great horsemen who had been their ancestors, 
in the period when the steppe had submerged China. Hence the 
fine statuettes of horses yielded up by the tombs of North China 
of the period of these 'Wei* kings. 

The Wei horses are easily recognizable. On necks that are 
often curved they lift a long, slender head and (like so many 
horses of our own seventeenth century) are higher in the withers 
than in the rump. Rich leather trappings, covers dragging almost 
to the ground, add to the steeds' nobility. As for the horsemen 
who straddle them, they are sometimes still pure barbarians, their 
bodies wrapped in a vast mantle, their heads covered by a cape 
or a felt bonnet — some Hun scout at standstill on a high point 
of the Great Wall — , in other cases personages perhaps of Tartar 
origin but wearing clothes that are partly Chinese, often in spite 
of their leather jerkins; again they may be horsewomen, striking 
for the long draping of their sleeves or dresses and their some- 
what severe elegance. We are not yet far removed from the 

* Cf. Eberhard, Das Toba-Reich Nord Chinas, Leiden, 1949. 


famous ballad on the heroine Mu-lan, half-way between the 
latter and the 'Pompadours on horseback' of the Tang period. 

A little later, in the second phase of the Wei dynasty, when 
the emperors had become almost entirely Sinicized, 41 they were 
to retain a predilection for fine steeds, richly caparisoned, with 
a trailing cloth, which they were to feature even on the lower 
registers of their Buddhist steles. 42 

Aside from the horsewomen, the terra cotta figurines repre- 
senting the ladies of the Six Dynasties (they can be recognized 
by their affinities with the feminine figures of the Buddhist steles 
or high reliefs that are authentically dated and of which we 
shall speak again) are distinguished by their costume, — which, 
Siren observes, is 'close-fitting with light sleeves, but in some 
cases it is so long that the train can be drawn up and hung 
over the arm, otherwise a large cloth is worn over the crossed 
arms. The figures are in general extraordinarily slim and slender, 
reminding us by their high waists and elongated proportions of 
the Premier Empire ladies, though with the difference that their 
hair is dressed high and surrounded by a kind of large spade- 
like cap, which also covers the ears and part of the back of the 
head. They ire perhaps not so refined and graceful as the true 
ladies of the Han period, 43 but they have a peculiar charm in 
their roguish smile and their spirited, sometimes stiff carriage'. 
With their hair done up in a knot, sometimes even in two knots 
like horns, with their long, straight and simple forms, these femi- 
nine statuettes of the Six Dynasties 44 (in all probability mainly 

* As we have seen, it was from the time of the To-pa king Hung (471- 
479) that the Wei finally abandoned their Turkish dialect to speak only Chinese. 

* A stele of 554, at the Boston Museum, Siren, Chinese Sculpture, London, 
1925, pi. 172. 

* Painted bricks of the Boston Museum, reproduced in Siren, History of Early 
Chinese Painting, London, 1933, 1, pi. 4-7. Otto Fischer, La peinture chinoise 
au temps des Han, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1932, Bg. 4, 5, 7. 

* Siren, A History of Early Chinese Art, London, 1928, vol. in, pp. 17-18. 
For good specimens, see the feminine statuettes of the Collection of Gustav-Adolph 
of Sweden, pi. 67. 


Wei) produce somewhat the same effect upon us (though this 
wholly fortuitous) as some of our Gothic statues. 45 

In the course of the long period of the Six Dynasties, costume 
evolves. 'It assumes the character of a long cape with ornamental 
borders. The hair takes the form of two large wings and on the 
feet are broad pointed shoes'. As Sir&i observes, in the latter 
style we have come to the second half of the sixth century, a 
period when the Great Wei or Northern Wei, in North China, 
have split into two branches, the Eastern Wei (534-550), conti- 
nued by the Pei-Ch'i (550-577), and the Western Wei (534-557), 
continued by the Pei-Chou (557-581). 

* * * 

The painting of the Six Dynasties is known to us through 
the work of an artist famous in Chinese annals, Ku K'ai-chih 
(344-406). His career was spent in and around Nanking, the 
then capital of the Chin emperors. We have, by him, a famous 
handscroll, today in the British Museum. It is not certain that 
this is the original painting. We are inclined to consider it to 
be a good copy dating perhaps from the Tang period. It depicts 
scenes of court life, or more precisely of the women's quarters, 
with slender, delicate figures of women wearing long scarves, 
full of grace and refinement. The general theme of the scroll is 
the 'Admonitions of the Monitress to the Court Ladies'. We 
see a young woman 'reprimanded by her husband' — a charming 
alcove scene (the emperor seated on the edge of a tester bed in 
which we catch a glimpse of his beloved, in conversation) — 
a toilet scene (a pretty lady-in-waiting, slim-waisted, standing, 
combing the hair of her mistress seated on a mat) — a famous 
favorite of Han times, saving her master the emperor from the 

* As Verifications' for certain of these statuettes, see in Lung-men the pro- 
cession of women, high relief of the P*in-yang grotto, of which we shall 
speak later. 


fury of a bear — the monitress writing before two ladies of the 
Court, etc. 46 . 

Whether this be the original or a faithful copy, such scenes 
evoke for our eyes the refinements of the Nanking Court — that 
Byzantium of Far Asia — in the period of the southern empire 
(between 316 and 589). Tang painting was undoubtedly to show 
greater power but, at least in its beginnings, less subtle grace, 
perhaps because North China, where Tang art was to develop, 
had in the interval absorbed the Turko-Mongolian hordes esta- 
blished on its soil for more than two centuries. 

We also find in the 'Ku K'ai-chih scroll' of the British Mu- 
seum a representation of a landscape (an archer aiming at some 
birds in a mountain setting). It is a rather sketchy landscape, 
but it reminds us of the conical peaks, with foot-hills like wave- 
crests, of the hill-jars of the Han glazed pottery. On the other 
hand, Ku K'ai-chih's mountain is a direct anticipation of the 
ridges and peaks of the Tang landscape backgrounds, in Tun- 
huang particularly. For this theme the Chinese pattern is here 
already set; Chinese perspective already formulated. 47 

The most authentic specimens of the pictorial style of the 
Six Dynasties are furnished us by the Korean tombs; not that 
Korean art, even at its beginnings, does not have its own origi- 
nality, but it is so closely related to Chinese art that we can 
judge the one by the other. These mural paintings are to be 
found in the northwest of Korea, either near the Yalu or near 
Pyong-yang. In this region, in the Shinchi-do, the mural paintings 
of the fifth and sixth centuries offer us 'charming little figures 
of donors, men and women, quickly sketched, in reddish, yellow, 
green, black and white shades', which aside from the garments 
(here finely pleated skirts and tunics with wide fur-edged sleeves), 

" Part of the text by the poet Chang Hua (232-300), which inspired the 
subjects of this scroll, has been translated by A. Waley, Introduction to the Study 
of Chinese Painting, pp. 50-52. 

* T Cf. Wilfrid H. Wells, Perspective in Early Chinese Painting. London, 1935. 


fury of a bear — the monitress writing before two ladies of the 
Court, etc 46 . 

Whether this be the original or a faithful copy, such scenes 
evoke for our eyes the refinements of the Nanking Court — that 
Byzantium of Far Asia — in the period of the southern empire 
(between 316 and 589). Tang painting was undoubtedly to show 
greater power but, at least in its beginnings, less subtle grace, 
perhaps because North China, where T'ang art was to develop, 
had in the interval absorbed the Turko-Mongolian hordes esta- 
blished on its soil for more than two centuries. 

We also find in the 'Ku K'ai-chih scroll' of the British Mu- 
seum a representation of a landscape (an archer aiming at some 
birds in a mountain setting). It is a rather sketchy landscape, 
but it reminds us of the conical peaks, with foot-hills like wave- 
crests, of the hill-jars of the Han glazed pottery. On the other 
hand, Ku K'ai-chih's mountain is a direct anticipation of the 
ridges and peaks of the T'ang landscape backgrounds, in Tun- 
huang particularly. For this theme the Chinese pattern is here 
already set; Chinese perspective already formulated. 47 

The most authentic specimens of the pictorial style of the 
Six Dynasties are furnished us by the Korean tombs; not that 
Korean art, even at its beginnings, does not have its own origi- 
nality, but it is so closely related to Chinese art that we can 
judge the one by the other. These mural paintings are to be 
found in the northwest of Korea, either near the Yalu or near 
Pyong-yang. In this region, in the Shinchi-do, the mural paintings 
of the fifth and sixth centuries offer us 'charming little figures 
of donors, men and women, quickly sketched, in reddish, yellow, 
green, black and white shades', which aside from the garments 
(here finely pleated skirts and tunics with wide fur-edged sleeves), 

• Part of the text by the poet Chang Hua (232-300), which inspired the 
subjects of this scroll, has been translated by A. Waley, Introduction to the Study 
of Chinese Painting, pp. 50-52. 

** Cf. Wilfrid H. Wells, Perspective in Early Chinese Painting London, 1935. 

35. Yen Li-pen: Portraits of the Emperors (detail). Painting on silk. 
T'ang Dynasty. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

36. Covered jar. T'ang Dynasty. British Museum* London. 


remind us, by the freshness of their attitudes, of the terra 
cotta figurines of the Six Dynasties that we mentioned above. 48 
A horseman setting out for the hunt, with two feathers in his 
cap, with his bow, his quiver, his richly caparisoned horse, has 
the slender elegance (barbarian though he undoubtedly is) of Ku 
K'ai-chih's male figures. 49 

Finally, in a somewhat late tomb, in Gulcen-ri (the so-called 
Kosai or Yang-wen tomb, dating from the years 545-559) the 
mural frescoes show us the animals of the Four Directions (green 
dragon, white tiger, black tortoise, red bird). These are true 
masterpieces. 'All of them\ Sirin notes, 'tigers and dragons, are 
alike in having very elongated bodies, supported on limbs that 
are like springs, winged shoulders, slender necks curved in an 
S shape, holding out a large horned head. There is something 
light and fleeting about all these beasts'. The interfacings of the 
black tortoise and the snake (a tortoise high on its legs, a ga- 
zelle-tortoise, in some respects as serpentlike as the serpent itself), 
all these patterns of deft, wavy lines, twisting and untwisting 
before our eyes, constitute a precious specimen of the terminal 
style of the Six Dynasties. 450 As in the fluttering of the scarves 
of Ku K'ai-chih's scroll, we here discern a refined elegance that 
marks the peak of southern Chinese art, the art of the Nanking 
court radiating even to the Korean kingdom of Ko-ku-rye. 

But the Buddhist influence was already invading China, par- 
ticularly in the provinces of the North, and all values were to 
become transformed. B1 

48 A. Eckardt, History of Korean Art, London, 1929, Coloured pi. no. 1. 

* Cernuschi Museum (Madeleine David), Catalogue de VBxposition fart co- 
rien, 1946, frontispiece. A. Eckardt, Op. at., pi. 82, p. 253. 

80 Idem, Ibid., pi. 32, fig. 69. On the symbol represented by the serpent and 
the tortoise, see the article (by that name) by Saussure, Toung Pao, xix, 1920, 
p. 247. 

w Cf. Hu Shin, The Indianization of China, in Independence, Convergence 
and Borrowings Cambridge (Mass.), 1937. P. C. Bagchi, India and China, Bom- 
bay, 1950. 


* * * 

Invasion of China by lndia?2 Culture. Propagation of Buddhism 

We have dealt, in another work, 52 with the origins of Budd- 
hism in India. We shall not dwell here on the personality of 
its founder, nor on the 'golden legend' that the Hellenistic art 
in the region of present-day Afghanistan and present-day Pa- 
kistan, around the beginning of our era, translated into images, 
thus giving birth to the whole iconography of later Buddhism. 
It is merely necessary to recall the concordance, the simultaneity, 
around the beginning of our era, of three facts of outstanding 
importance: the creation of the images of Buddhist iconography; 
the transformation of ancient Buddhism into a new religion, 
better adapted to a broad international dissemination; the estab- 
lishment of a common frontier between the Chinese empire and 
the Indo-Buddhistic empires. 

Buddhist art, which up to this time had refused to represent 
in pictorial form either the historic Buddha or the Bodhisattvas 
(or Buddhas of the future), had, as we have just said, taken 
the step of replacing the symbolic representation of these divine 
figures by their anthropomorphic images. The worship of 'ima- 
ges', dear to the whole Hellenistic civilization, was replacing 
'aniconic' devotion. We must note that this is a truly pan-Hel- 
lenic phenomenon. The recourse to the anthropomorphic repre- 
sentations of the Greek pantheon for translating into 'pictorial 
language' the suprahuman personages of the new Buddhistic 
pantheon, reminds us of the adaptation of the same kind made 
by the Christian Primitive Church and even by Roman-Syrian 
Judaism. The artists of the catacombs borrowed the image of 
Hermes Criophorus to represent the Good Shepherd; 5S their sue- 


Vlnde, pp. 11 ff. 

May I be permitted to refer here to the study by my father, Louis-Xavier- 
Rene Grousset, Le Bon Pasteur et les scenes pastorales dans la sculpture f uneraires 


cessors, that of Zeus to represent the Eternal Father. Likewise 
the Judeo-Greek painters of the large synagogue of Dura-Euro- 
pos in Syrian Mesopotamia (245-256 a.d.) clothed the prophets 
of Israel in the costumes of Graeco-Roman personages. 54 The 
establishing, in the sphere of art, of the forms of Buddhist ico- 
nography by the Hellenistic or Helleni2ing sculptors of Afgha- 
nistan and of Punjab in the first four centuries of our era, consoli- 
dated the theological establishment of these supernatural figures 
of Buddhas and of Bodhisattvas which were destined to play 
such a considerable role in the propagation of Buddhism in the 
Ear East. At the moment when the Buddhist missionaries were 
about to undertake the 'evangelizing' of the Chinese world, they 
thus had available a whole pantheon of pious images, which 
soon became stereotyped, and which were an indispensable aid 
for preaching and for mass-conversion. 

This development of a Buddhist pantheon with more and 
more markedly individualized divinities coincided with the trans- 
formation of the old Buddhism through the elaboration both 
of a new Buddhology and of a new metaphysics. The historic 
Buddha Sakyamuni, without losing anything of his human role, 
became associated with a certain number of 'future Buddhas' — the 
Bodhisattvas, who in principle constitute as many 'messiahs' 
whose coming would occur at intervals through the myriads of 
kalpa of the future, so that the new Buddhology, thus conceived, 
was going to benefit in the Far East by all the 'contagion' of a 
messianic ingredient. 

Among these Bodhisattvas awaiting reincarnation in their 
blissful paradises we may mention Maitreya (in Chinese: Mi4o 
fo) 9 who will be the first 'messiah', represented by the Greeks 
with the Brahmanic headdress and the 'water jug' of the Brah- 

des chr&iens, in Milanges tfatchiologie et fhistoire publiis par PEcole Frangaise 
de Rome, 1885, p. 161. 

64 Du Mesnil Du Buisson, Les peintures de la synagogue de Doura-Europos, 
Rome, 1939. 



mans; r ' 5 Avalokitehara (in Chinese: Kuan-yin)> who plays the 
role of a kind of Buddhist Providence, and much later, in the 
China of the Five Dynasties and the Sung, assumes the appea- 
rance of a kind of madonna; 56 Manjuirl (Chinese: Wen-shu- 
$hih-li), bearing the Book, the Sword, the Blue Lotus and mounted 
on a lion; Ksitigarbha (Chinese: Ti-tsang), bearing the ringed 
stick of the mendicant monk and the Jewel-that-fulfills-desires, 
who is the good judge of souls on the threshold of reincarna- 
tions; Vajrapani (in Chinese: Chin-kang-shou), Buddha's com- 
panion and body-guard, first represented, in Graeco-Buddhist ico- 
nography, with the features of a lightning-bearing Zeus (light- 
ning, in Sanskrit: vajra), who later in China became a divinity 
similar to the Bodhisattvas, but always featured with lightning 
in hand; Samantabhadra (in Chinese: P*u-bsien), recognizable 
by the white elephant that he uses as a mount; Amttabha (in 
Chinese: A-mi-t'o), a metaphysical or transcendant Buddha (dhya- 
ni-Buddha), 'spiritual father' of Avalokitefrara-Kuan-yin, and 
who as such is featured in the latter's head-dress (above the 
forehead); lastly, Vairocana (Chinese: Fi-lu-che-na), also a trans- 
cendant Buddha (dhyani-Buddhd), destined to play in certain 
esoteric sects of the Far East an almost theistic role. 

The various divinities of this pantheon, in passing from 
Northern India to Central Asia, to China, to Japan, to Tibet, 
were in fact to evolve in isolation. In Central Asia, in the early 
Middle Ages, the faithful were presumed first to await the com- 
ing of 'the nearest messiah', Maitreya. 07 As the latter was slow in 

* See Sylvain Levi, Maitreya, le Consolateur, in Etudes tPorientalisme pu- 
bises par le Musie Gurnet a la memotre de Raymoude Linossier, Vol. 11, 1932, 
pp. 355-402. 

" See Marie-Th&ese de Mallmann, Introduction £ thud* d'Avalokitecvara t 
Musfe Guimet, Bibliotheque d'Etude, Vol. 57, 1948. 

* We may note that it is Maitreya, too, who was invoked by the famous 
monk Hsuan-tsang on his death-bed (in 664). The latter had studied, in Central 
Asia as well as in India, all the doctrines on the various Bodhisattvas (Vie de 
HJuan-tsang, trans. Stanislas Julien, p. 345). 

37. Head of Bodhisattva, stone. Sui Dynasty. Stoclet Collection* 


appearing, their fervour had to be transferred to Avalokitesvara, 
the Bodhisattva of mercy, who was subsequently to become a 
madonna of compassion; later, finally, piety was to attach itself 
to Vairocana in the esoteric and metaphysical sects, or more 
generally to Amitabha in the pietistic and fideist sects, preaching 
belief in a personal divinity, in other words, more than ever a 
'religion of salvation'. 

This pantheon (which, to be sure, the historic Buddha could 
not have foreseen) shows us that the general conception of 
Buddhism, on the eve of its propagation in the Far East, was 
evolving. For nirvana (Chinese: nieh-p'an), that is to say the 
final extinction of the soul, at last delivered of the 'forced labours' 
of reincarnation, the new Buddhism as it was being elaborated 
in Northern India in the first centuries A.D., substituted the hope 
of a blissful rebirth in wonderful paradises, at the feet of the 
various Bodhisattvas. The paradise of Avalokitesvara, and that 
of his mystically correspondent Buddha, Amitabha, were those 
that in the long run became, in China in particular, the most 
popular. The beatific vision thus took the place of the former 
desire for extinction; the wisdom — a little arid perhaps — of pri- 
mitive Buddhism gave way either to a powerful esotericism, in 
the last analysis fairly close to Chinese neo-Taoism, or to a reli- 
gion of the heart, full of tenderness and forgiveness, likely to 
appeal to the loftiest souls as well as to console the afflictions 
of the masses. In both cases Buddhism, with its religiosity, with 
its charity, with its faith, brought to China a spirituality that it 
still lacked. 

By a curious coincidence China, like the West at the same 
period, was waiting f:or a religion of salvation. Neo-Taoism had, 
to be sure, attempted to respond to this need. But the complica- 
tions of Taoism, its dietetics, its innumerable purifications, its 
exhausting control of breathing, indeed of all human behaviour, 
its minute prescriptions, the excesses of its magic that took its 
adepts back to the practices of primitive witchcraft, all this 
increasingly strict formalism discouraged the best-intentioned. 


What the contemporaries of the Six Dynasties were laboriously 
seeking in Taoism, Buddhism was to offer them with infinitely 
greater facility. 58 

* * * 

At the time when neo-Buddism thus conceived — 'the Great 
Vehicle (of Salvation)*, 59 as it was called— was being developed 
in India, the conquests of the Han in Central Asia were bringing 
China into direct contact with it. We have already spoken of 
the expeditions of the Chinese general Pan Ch'ao (between 73 
and 102 a.d.) bringing the frontiers of China as far as to the 
'Roof of the World'. The Chinese empire thus made contact 
with the Indo-Scythian empire of the Kuchans, masters of Afgha- 
nistan and of the Punjab and one of whose sovereigns, the famous 
Kaniska (approx. 144-172 A.D.), having become the protector of 
Buddhism, could not fail to become interested in the dissemina- 
tion of this religion in Central Asia. 60 The propaganda in question 
naturally followed the Silk Road, with its double trail of car- 
avans that brought the silk merchants as far as the Pamir, that 
great crossroads of Eurasiatic relations. As so often happens, the 
trade route had in effect favoured the trade in ideas. Since the 
beginnings of the Christian era, the Buddhist missionaries, using 
these traffic lanes, had thus undertaken the methodical conver- 
sion of the caravan oases of the Tarim. 

The oases in question, Kashgar, Kucha and Karashar to the 
north (with Turf an somewhat removed, to the northeast), and in 
the south, Yarkand, Khotan, Niya and Miran, thus played the 
same role, for the dissemination of arts and religions, as the 

m Henri Maspero, Lb Taoisme, p. 57. 
* Sanscrit: Mabayana. Chinese: Ta-skeng. 

m A new chronology of Kanaka, by R. Ghirshman, Begram, Recherche s sur 
Us Koucbans, Paris-Cairo, 1946, p. 141. 


oases of the Syrian desert, as Palmyra and Dura. 61 As has been 
said above, these Central-Asiatic oases were then inhabited by 
Indo-European populations: East-Iranians (former Sakas or 'Sa- 
ces') in Kashgar and Khotan, and Tokharian, likewise of Indo- 
European language, in Kucha, Karashar and Turfan. Among 
these peoples, racial brothers of the Indo-Iranians, the Indian 
culture brought by the Buddhist missionaries must have propa- 
gated without effort It brought with it the Graeco-Buddhist 
sculpture from the region of present-day Afghanistan and present- 
day Punjab, the art of Gandhara, as it is commonly called. The 
Aurel Stein Mission, in fact, found in Rawak, in the region of 
Khotan, around various stiipas going back to the first centuries 
of our era, purely Graeco-Buddhist reliefs, 62 and in Niya, on a 
site abandoned about the end of the third century A.D., intaglios 
of Roman workmanship, as well as coins from the Kuchan dyn- 
asty that reigned between 30 and 244 a.d. over Afghanistan 
and Punjab. 63 In Miran, finally, south of Lop-Nor, Aurel Stein 
has discovered third century Buddhist mural paintings of purely 
Graeco-Roman workmanship. 64 

Over the trails of the Silk Road, through the Tarim basin, 
the Buddhist missionaries, from the second half of the first cen- 
tury of our era onward, arrived in China. We know that in the 
year 65 a Han imperial prince, the prince of Ch'u, whose apa- 
nage was situated in P'eng-ch'eng, at the mouth of the Yangtze, 
favoured a small Buddhist community established on his terri- 

* Gompare on the one hand Rostov2eff, Les cites caravanieres, Petra et 
Palmyre, Tableaux de la vie antique, Paris, 1936, p. 115, and by the same, Dura- 
Europos and its Art, Oxford, 1936; on the other hand Aurel Stein, On Ancient 
Central-Asian tracks, London, 1933, and Von Le Coq, Buried Treasures of Chinese 
Turkestan, London, 1928. The caravan as vehicle of new religions. Likewise today 
the railroad a vehicle of revolutionary propaganda. 

•* Aurel Stein, Ancient Khotan, n, pis. xiv £F. 

" New chronology by R. Ghirshman. On Niya, see Aurel Stein, Op. cit., 
Oxford, 1907, pis. X1DC, LXXI, LXXXIX. 

•* Aurel Stein, Serindia, Oxford, 1921, vol. I, fig. 134 ff, p. 517 ff; vol. iv, 
pis. XL, XLII. 


tory. 63 After his death (in 73) one of his nephews sheltered 
this Buddhist community in his palace, in the imperial capital 
of Lo-yang. The Lo-yang community prospered and in 166 a Han 
sovereign, emperor Huan-ti, favoured it with his benevolence. 

The first translations of the Buddhist holy Scriptures, from 
Sanskrit into Chinese, were the work of a missionary of Iranian 
(Parthian) origin, called by the Chinese An Shih-kao, who is 
presumed to have translated, between 148 and 170, the Amitayus- 
sutra (in Chinese: Wu-liang-shou-ching), a text of which the 
choice is significant, for it deals with the transcendant Buddha 
Amitayus ('Infinite Life'), the doublet of Amitabha ('Infinite 
Light'); in other words, we are here in the presence of the 'Ami- 
die' beliefs, that is to say of a kind of neo-Buddhism, undoub- 
tedly influenced in the beginning by the 'religions of Light' of 
Iran, which was to develop into a true fideism, with devotion 
to a personal divinity, full of tenderness and compassion. Here 
was a note that China, even in the neo-Taoist devotions, had 
never before heard. 

The Buddhist community of Lo-yang a little later, about 170, 
heard the sermons of two other missionaries, one of whom had 
come from India proper, the other from the old Indo-Scythian 
empire (Afghanistan and Punjab). Between 223 and 253 we find 
the son of an Indo-Scythian ambassador translating a new 'Ami- 
disf work, the famous Amitabha-sJitra (A-mi-t'o chmg). It is of 
interest to note that the Buddhist preachers did not arrive in 
China solely by the continental route, the Silk Road. Some also 
came by the sea route, the Spice Route, like K'ang Seng-hui, a 
Sogdian merchant, that is, originating from the region of Sa- 
markand, who had come via India and Indochina and landed, 
in 247, in Nanking where he preached Buddhism to a local 
prince, in the time of the Three Kingdoms. 

About 270 we observe the importance that Buddhism has 

* Sec Henri Maspero, Us religions chinoises, p. 205, and U Taofsme, p. 186. 


assumed in the oasis of Lou-Ian (northeast of Lop-Nor) where 
Buddhist statuettes have been found, with angular folds inspired 
by woodcarving technique, which were markedly to influence the 
'Chinese Saint-Sulpice' of the following period. 66 Between 284 
and 313 we find an Indo-Scythian resident and an Indian resi- 
dent working in Ch'ang-an (Sianfu), named respectively Chih 
Fa-hu and Chu- Shu-Ian, who translated from the Sanskrit the 
famous Lotus of the True Law (Sanskrit: Saddharma-pundarlka; 
in Chinese: P'u-yao-ching), a text that two centuries later was 
to play, as we shall see, such a great role in the training of the 
Chinese Buddhist sect (with monist tendencies) of the Tien-t'ai. 67 

* * * 

These translators found themselves faced with a difficult pro- 
blem: how were they to find equivalents in Chinese for the 
Buddhist concepts? The genius of the Sanskrit language, an 
Indo-European language that basically obeys the same laws as 
our Greek and our Latin, has hardly anything in common with 
Chinese. Every Chinese character is charged with an age-old dyn- 
amism that is almost bound to produce strange distortions when 
it is used to interpret notions that are foreign. It is the same 
difficulty that the Catholic missionaries were later to encounter 
when they had to translate Christian dogma into characters; we 
know that in the sixteenth century the Catholic missions resolved 
the question by borrowing a certain number of terms from Con- 
f ucianist philosophy. 

The Buddhist propagandists and translators, for their part, 
borrowed the Taoist vocabulary. To translate the Sanskrit notion 
of bodhi ('Illumination') that makes a true Buddha of the Bodbi- 
sattva or candidate to Buddha-hood), the pious translators bor- 

* See Folke Bergman, Archaeological Researches in Sin-kiang, Stockholm, 1939. 
** The sect of Mount Tien-t'ai (Japanese: Tendai) was founded by the Chi- 
nese monk Chih-i (531-597). 



rowed the characteristic vocable tao (the 'Way'), a term by which 
the Taoists' designated their Absolute, cosmic force and vital 
urge. The Sanskrit notion of 'Extinction* (the extinction of the 
personality) or nirvana was rendered by the characters mieh-tu y 
terms that designate the Taoist 'Deliverance', or else by the 
words wu-weu the 'Non-Acting' of the Taoist Immortals, all 
terms having a meaning far removed from the Sanskrit concept. 
To designate the saints of Buddhism (Sanskrit: arhat), the Taoist 
expression chen-)en ('true man') was used, a term also charged 
with a quite different previous meaning. 

It was thanks to this disguise that the first Buddhist com- 
munities were able to gain admittance in China. Their faithful 
passed themselves off, or allowed themselves to be regarded, as 
a new Taoist sect. The P'eng-ch'eng community had been, as we 
said, favoured by a Han imperial prince, precisely because this 
prince was greatly addicted to Taoism. In fact this community, 
as well as that of Lo-yang that derived from it, were, to bor- 
row Henri Maspero's formula, brotherhoods of Buddhicized 
Taoism'. 68 The first in date of the translators, the Parthian An 
Shih-kao of whom we have spoken, puts into the mouth of the 
Buddha Sakyamuni the statement that man can achieve immor- 
tality, an astonishing assertion if we reflect that all Sakyamuni's 
teaching tended toward nirvana^ that is to say toward the extinc- 
tion of the personality; an explicable assertion, on the other hand, 
if we recall that it was proffered for the use of Taoist circles in 
which the wise man aspired only to become an Immortal. In 
order to circumvent the difficulty Buddhist apologetics, as voiced 
in particular by Chih Ch'ien, between 223 and 253, in the first 
life of Sakyamuni translated (by him) into Chinese, let it be 
understood that Lao-tzu, and Confucius as well, had themselves 
been but incarnations of the Buddha. 

" Maspero, Introduction du Bouddhisme, Les religions chinoises, pp. 207 ff, 
and Le TaoTsme et les d&uts du bouddhisme en Chine, Le Taoisme, pp. 185 ff. 


We may note in passing the nationality of the 'Kuchan (that 
is originating from present-day Afghanistan) or Parthian, or in 
any case Iranian missionaries, whom we find to be so numerous 
among the first apostles of Buddhism in China. In fact, one of 
the aspects of Buddhism that they were to preach, the Mahayana 
or 'Great Vehicle of Salvation' (and, in the Mahayana most 
particularly Amidism), seems to have been strongly influenced 
by the Iranian 'religions of light', a tendency that was still fur- 
ther to favour the propagation of Buddhism in the Far East. 69 

Amidism or devotion to the dyani-Buddha Amitabha (in Chi- 
nese: A-mi-t'o) also developed in Taoistically-inclined circles. It 
was a Taoist converted to Buddhism, the monk Hui-yuan, also 
called Yiian-kun (334-416), who founded on Mount Lu-shan, 
in Kiangsi, the famous sect of the White Lotus {Pai-lien shib, 
or Pai-lien tsung), an Amidist sect in every sense of the word, 
all lqve and piety, whose faithful were to be reborn in the para- 
dise of 'the Pure Land' (Sukhavaft, Hsu-mo-ti or Cbing-t'u) 9 in 
the mystic lotus, at the feet of Amitabha. Now, Hui-yuan stated 
that his Taoist experience had helped him more than once to 
elucidate Buddhist problems. 

But such accommodations could not go very far. Despite su- 
perficial analogies, there was an absolute opposition of principle 
between the two religions. Taoism sets out in conquest of the 
Vital Urge, or more exactly of the Cosmic Urge, a conquest that 
will make the sage into an Immortal. Buddhism has no other 
aim than to eliminate the Vital Urge in us so as to free us from 
the immortality of rebirths. No more complete divergence can 
be imagined. 

At the end of the second century of our era, a former Taoist 
converted to Buddhism, Mou-tzu, ended by rejecting the princi- 
ples of Lao-tzu completely. His apologetics makes curious ad- 
vances, on the other hand, to Confucianism, recognized by him 

m Cf . Alexander Soper, Aspects of Light Symbolism in Gandharan Sculpture. 
Buddha and Mithra, Attibus Asiae, xh, 1949, p. 252. 


as the State doctrine, legitimate as such, and which Buddhism, 
far from combating, must complete and crown. Mou-tzu seeks 
to disarm the prejudices of scholars against the 'foreign religion 
by proving to them that Buddhism is in no way opposed to the 
official national tradition. 70 But while Buddhism and Confucian- 
ism, developing in different social climates and virtually on 
two distinct planets, could scarcely respond to Mou-tzu's prof- 
fers of conciliation, the Taoists and the Buddhists, meanwhile, 
occupying adjoining grounds, but divided by bitter monkish quar- 
rels, by terrible rivalries for customers, were soon hounding each 
other with an implacable hatred. 

In annexing Lao-tzu the Buddhists had meant to take Taoism 
under their wing. The Taoists, not to be outdone, were to repay 
them in kind. Early in the fourth century the Taoist Wang Fu, 
in his Book on the Conversion of the Barbarians, tells how Lao- 
tzu had gone to the Indies and had there promoted the birth of 
Buddhism: Sakyamuni was but a Taoist 'Immortal', entrusted 
with placing the doctrine of Lao-tzu, as best he could, within the 
grasp of the Indian "Barbarians'. Another polemicist of the same 
school, Ku Huan (died about 483), in a Dissertation on the Bar- 
barians and the Chinese (l-Hsia lun), also demonstrates that 
Buddhism is nothing but a reflection of Taoism, a reflection 
that is good enough for Barbarians, whereas the Chinese, with 
the school of Lao-tzu, have kept the original doctrine in all 
its purity. 71 

We shall witness these discussions and polemics throughout 
Chinese religious history, in the course of which Buddhist monks 
and Taoist monks ceaselessly fought for imperial favor in order, 
charitably, to have the opposing Church condemned. The same 
hostility existed, despite Mou-tzu's endeavor at conciliation, be- 
tween Buddhist monks and Confucianist scholars. More than 
one Chinese monarch, wavering from one to another, was a 


Pelliot, Meou-tseu ou les doutes levis, Young poo, 1918-19, p. 255. 
Maspero, Religions cbinoises, pp. 75-76. 

38. Avalokitesvara, stone, from Ch'ang-an. Northern Chou Dynasty, 
c. 570 A. D. Museum of Fine Arts* Boston. 

39. Head of Bodhisattva, stone, T*ang Dynasty. Rietberg Museum, 
Zurich, Von der Heydt Collection, 


living testimony to the uncertainty of minds. Such was already 
the case of the Nanking emperor Liang Wu-ti (502-549). This 
brilliant representative of a younger imperial branch, having 
reached the throne solely through his own merit, first showed 
himself to be a model sovereign according to the Confucianist 
ideal, a firm and generous statesman, energetic, humane and skil- 
ful, a successful captain and valiant soldier. But having subse- 
quently been converted to Buddhism, he embraced its ideas with 
such zeal that he became a monk and, by dint of practicing Indian 
non-violence* (ahimsa), finally allowed his dynasty to crumble. 

Sinization of Buddhism 

Whatever the progress of Buddhism in 'Chinese China', in 
the southern Empire of Nanking, may have been, it was infini- 
tely greater in North China, then in the power of the Turko- 
Mongolian, Hun and other invaders. These Barbarians, having 
become, as we have seen, masters of the whole Yellow River basin 
after 316, were never finally expelled from there. Their hordes, as 
often happens in such cases, mutually destroyed one another, 
but the last of them, that of the T'o-pa or Tabghatch, remained 
to become entirely Sinicized, and was finally absorbed, without 
the exercise of any compulsion, by the Chinese environment. 

Now these Barbarians, who did not have the prejudices 
against Buddhism that the native Confucianist circles had, were 
soon won over by the Indian preaching. On this clean slate 
Buddhism could write its message without difficulty. In 335 
a Hun chief who reigned in Shansi formally authorized Buddhist 
preaching. Another Barbarian chief, king Fu Chien, who reigned 
in Shensi (358-385), protected the famous missionary Kuma- 
rajiva, the son of an Indian father and of a mother originating 
from Kucha, in Kashgaria, and who, once established in Ch'ang- 
an, translated from the Sanskrit into Chinese a great number of 
Buddhist texts, in particular the delightful Sutralamkara by the 


Indian poet Asvaghesa, 72 the Lotus of the True Law, the Amidist 
manual of the Paradises of Purity (SukhavatT), the monastic rule 
of the so-called 'realist' school {vinaya of the Sarvastivadin), the 
treatise of the so-called Madhyamika criticist school, etc. 78 

The very eclecticism of such choices proves that works of 
the most opposing tendencies on the most diverse subjects were 
being translated haphazardly, as long as they were part of Bud- 
dhist literature. 74 In the following generation, about 420, another 
Indian religious, Buddhabhadra, established in Ch'ang-an, then 
in Nanking, likewise translated the 'Garland of Flowers' {Ava- 
tamsaka-sutrd), a monist and mystical treatise that was to serve 
as a bible for the Chinese esoteric sect of the Km-yen (in Japa- 
nese: Kegon). 

Tradition has it, finally, that under the reign of the southern 
emperor Liang Wu-ti, about 520-525, there came to Nanking by 
the sea route the Indian monk Bodhidharma (in Chinese: Ta-mo), 
chief of the contemplative sect of the Dhyana (in Chinese : Ch'an, 
in Japanese: Zen). If the historical details of the chronology of 
Bodhidharma are a matter of dispute (some claim that he arrived 
in Canton from India by sea as early as 470 and left Nanking 
in 520 to go to North China), it is none the less interesting to 
note to what extent the motionless ecstasy, 'the mural contem- 
plation' of the Ch'an sect, coincided with the soul -states and the 
similar practices of Taoism. 75 The notion of dhyana (atetm that 
should perhaps be rendered here by 'intuition' rather than by 

n It may be recalled that there is an excellent French translation (By Edouard 
Huber, Paris 1908) of the Chinese version of the Sutralamkara. 

w On the translation by Kumarajlva of Amidic texts, in particular, see the 
English version of Buddha bba$ita... by Nishu Utsuki, Kyoto, 1941. 

w See Bunyn Nanjio, Catalogue of the Chinese Tripitaka, H, 59, p. 407. 

15 On the legendary character of Bodhidharma's preaching, see Pelliot, Toung 
pao 9 1923, p. 253. It is well, however, to bear in mind Lionello Lanciotti, New 
Historic Contribution to the Person of Bodhidharma, Artibus Asiae, xii, 1949, 
p. 141 (agreeing with Hu Shih). Present position in P. C Bagchi, India and 
China, p. 103. 


"meditation') could not fail to please minds conditioned by the 
reading of Lao-tzu. As for Bodhidharma, after having sojourned 
in Nanking, in the States of emperor Liang Wu-ti, he presumably 
went to reside for some time in North China, with the Wei.™ 
But the Ch'an was soon to become Sinicized. The immediate 
successor to Bodhidharma as head of the sect, the monk Hui-k'o 
(died in 593), was a Chinese. With the sixth patriarch, the fa- 
mous Hui-neng, head of the Ch'an church from 675 to 712 and 
undoubtedly the most remarkable personality in this spiritual 
family, the sect completed the transformation into Chinese 
thought of the fundamental ideas brought from India, thus achiev- 
ing a Buddhist equivalent of the highest Taoism. So tumultuous 
was the Chinese dhyanist movement from that point on that it 
divided into several branches. Hui-neng and, after him, Shen-hui 
and Tan-lun, recommended, for the attainment of illumination, 
the 'abrupt' or 'instantaneous' method (Sanskrit: yugapad; Chi- 
nese: tun-chiao\ conforming, it seems, to the principles attribut- 
ed to Bodhidharma. Typical of these masters of the instantaneist 
doctrine was T'an-lun, 'an uncompromising quietist who practic- 
ed deep concentration without ever leaving his cell, without en- 
gaging in any form of worship, without ever studying in books'. 77 
But in opposition to Hui-neng an antipatriarch, Shen-hsiu, found- 
ed another school, known as 'School of the North' (in opposi- 
tion to that of Hui-neng, which remained the 'School of the 
South'). This new sect sought dhyanic Illumination by the 'gra- 
dual' way (Sanskrit: krama-vrittya\ Chinese: chien-chiao)' 
Finally, upon the death of Hui-neng (712), the School of the 
South in turn divided into two sects, on the one hand the Ts'ao- 
tung sect (in Japanese: Soto), founded by Hsing-ssu (died in 
740), on the other hand the Lin-chi sect (in Japanese: Rinzai), 

w In the monastery of Chao-lin-ssu, in Sung-shan. 
n Cf. Paul Demieville, Le Miroir spirituel, Sinologica I, 2, p. 113. 
n Cf. Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series, in the 
Collected Series, London, 1950, p. 213. 



founded by Huai-jang (died in 744).™ We shall see the influence 
of these diverse doctrines on later Chinese art, in particular on 
the painting of the Sung age. 

Shortly after Bodhidharma, and without a doubt more authen- 
tically, there arrived in Nanking by the sea route, in 548, the 
Indian monk Paramartha who translated from the Sanskrit into 
Chinese the philosophic 'Summa of the Buddhist 'Small Vehicle', 
known by the name of Abhidharma-koia-Sastra™ 

Chinese Buddhism was soon to be able to fly with its own 
wings. 81 Independently of the Ch'an sect, so quickly penetrated 
by Taoist influences, the Chinese monk Chih-i (531-597), pro- 
pagator of the famous text known as Lotus of the True Lawf- 
ul 575 founded on Mount Tien-t'ai, in Chekiang, a Buddhist 
sect called by the same name (Tien-t'ai sect in Chinese, Tendai 
in Japanese), which reached a kind of monism and pantheism, 
transforming the totality of the phenomena of which the Bud- 
dhistic universe is composed into the equivalent of an Absolute, 
'Absolute Nature', the soul of the Buddhas and of worlds. 83 

While the Indian missionaries had come to 'evangelize* China, 
Chinese monks, trained in their school, had set out on pilgri- 
mages to India, to visit the Buddhist Holy Places. Such was the 
case of the monk Fa-hsien. Leaving Ch'ang-an in 399, Fa-hsien 

w Sylvain Levi, Materiaux japonah pour V etude du bouddbisme, Tokyo, 1927, 
pp. 36-40. 

" The Abbidbarma-kosa-tastra (in Chinese: A-p'i-fa-mo cbu-sbe sbih luen\ 
attributed to the Indian philosopher Vasubandhu (fourth to fifth centuries A.D.), 
has been remarkably well translated into French by Louis de La Vallee-Poussin. 

* One of the most recent general studies of Sino-Japanese Buddhist thought 
(with nomenclature of the schools and sects) is that of Takakusu, Tbe Essentials 
of Buddhist Pbilosopby, Honolulu, 1947. 

** In Sanskrit: Saddbarma-pundarlka. It is believed of have been composed, 
in India, in the early third century a.d. 

M The notion of 'Absolute Nature* (bbuta tatbata in Sanskrit, cbenju in Chi- 
nese) announces the reintroduction of metaphysics into the original Buddhistic 
panphenomenism. An undoubted manifestation of the inner evolution of the Indian 
Mahayana. A proof also of the Taoist osmosis in Chinese Buddhism. 


passed through Lop-Nor, Khotan, Gandhara, visited India and 
Ceylon and returned by sea (via Sumatra). He was back in China 
in 414. 

Wei Sculpture 

The barbarian kings, of Turkish race, known in Turkish by 
the name of Tabghatch kings (Chinese transcription: To-pa) 
and in Chinese by the name of kings of Wei, who from 400 on 
gradually extended their domination over all North China, ini- 
tially reacted against the Buddhist propaganda. 84 In 444, one of 
them, the energetic To-pa T'ao, went so far as to prohibit 
Buddhism, a prohibition that entailed highly regrettable icono- 
clastic measures from the point of view of our archeological 
knowledge. But by 453 his successor, -To-pa Hsiin, put an end 
to the persecution. So great did the fervor of this dynasty pre- 
sently become that in 471 king To-pa Hung became a monk. 

The conversion of the To-pa or Wei kings was to have a 
considerable influence on the development of Chinese art. The 
Buddhist sculpture from the middle of the fifth century to the 
middle of the sixth is rightly known as 'Wei sculpture*. The 
first residence of the Wei kings had been, from 398 to 494, in 
P'ing-ch'eng, two and a half kilometres west of Ta-t'ung, in 
the extreme north of present-day Shansi, on the fringe of the 
steppe. In 414-415 the Buddhists began to build rock shrines 
(sculptured caves and niches) in the cliffs of Yiinkang, 15 kilo 
metres to the west of Ta-t'ung. 85 Of the first sculptures of this 

* Cf. "W. Eberhard, Das Toba-Reicb Nord-Cbinas, erne soziologiscbe Unter- 
sucbung, Leiden. 1949 Peter Boodberg, The Language of the To-pa Wei, 
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1936, pp. 167-185. Louis Bazin, Tlecherches 
sur les parlers To-pa*, Toung pao, xxxix, 1950, p. 320. 

88 The example for the Buddhist sanctuaries dug in cliff walls came, through 
Tarim (Kysil and Turfan), from Buddhist Afghanistan: the imitation of the Ba- 
miyan caves is perceptible in Yun-kang. The relay is furnished by the caves 
of Tun-huang (a frontier post between China and the Tarim), the first of which 
probably date from 366. See Hackin, The Colossal Buddhas at B£miy£n, Their 
Influence on Buddhist Sculpture, Eastern AtU Vol. I, 2, 


period nothing remains, most likely as a result of the persecu- 
tions of the years 446-447. The work was resumed in 453. The 
moving spirit in the undertaking was the Chinese monk Tan- 
yao, whose doctrine was based on the Lotus of the True Law 
and on the teachings of the Indian arhat Vimalaklrti. 86 Between 
460 and 465, under the reign of the Wei king To-pa Hsun, 
it was he who directed the work on caves 14 to 20 at Yiin-kang, 
including the colossal Buddha, seated Indian-fashion, of cave 20, 
whose rather rough, sketchy character is reminiscent of the Bud- 
dhas, likewise both colossal and simplified, of Bamiyan. 87 This 
was followed, about 480-485, by the fitting out of caves 5 to 13. 
The 'first* caves in the traditional numbering that has been kept 
since Chavannes, in particular cave 3, are in fact later, dating 
from the Sui period (581-617). 88 

In 494, the kings of Wei, already almost entirely Sinicized, 
moved their capital from P'ing-ch'eng to Lo-yang, the ancient 
metropolis of Honan. From the years 508-515, they had dug out 
and fitted as Buddhist rock shrines the black limestone cliff 
wall of the Lung-men pass, some eight miles south of Lo-yang. 
The work began with the Ku-yang-tung cave (years 508-515). 
Then came the caves of Lien-hua-tung, of the same period, of 
Wei-tzu-tung, as well as of Yueh-fang-tung (about 530) and of 
Pin-yang-tung, this last until recently regarded as being of the 
Tang period but which a better interpretation by our Japanese 
colleague Sekino enables us to bring back to about 535-536. 80 

m See Demieville, 'I/Inscription de Yun-kang', b.e.f.e.o., 1925, p. 449. 

m For the dating of the Yun-kang caves, reference should henceforth be 
made to Tokiwa and Sekino, Buddhist Monuments in China, II, Tokyo, 1926. 
On the colossal Buddha of Yiin-kang, see Seiichi Mizuno, Chinese Stone Sculpture, 
Tokyo, 1950, p. 16, pi. ill, no. 6. 

m Until the eagerly-awaited publication of the complete series of photographs 
of Yun-kang, prepared by the University of Kyoto, becomes available, see Yukio 
Yashiro, The Present State of the Yiin-kang Caves, Bulletin of Eastern Art, 15, 
Tokyo, 1941. 

* We may note that Sekino's case in favor of pushing back the date of fitting 
out the Pin-yang-tung to the years 535-536 is corroborated by the fact that the 


To the end, the Wei sovereigns had contributed to the em- 
bellishment of the sanctuaries of Lung-men, situated so close 
to their new capital (as those of Yun-kang had been dug in the 
proximity of their preceding capital). One of these had been 
the formidable but very pious dowager Hu, regent of the Wei 
kingdom from 515 to 528. It was during the regency of this 
princess also that the elegant pagoda of Sung-yiieh-ssu was built, 
about 523, on a terrace of the Sung-shan, in Honan, which is 
the most ancient known pagoda in China. 00 To the pious works 
of this dynasty must be added the sculptures (in gray-blue lime- 
stone) of She-ku-ssu in Kung-hsien near Lung-men, sculptures 
begun around the end of the Wei of the North and continued 
after the division of their empire (after 534), as can be seen 
by the mention of donors under the heading of the years 595-600, 
in the period of the Sui. 01 

Buddhist art, we know, reached China by way of Central 
Asia. We may recall in this connection that in 'Eurasiatic* rela- 
tions two kinds of quite separate transcontinental trails must be 

1. Tie route across the steppes that has its starting-point 
in Inner and Outer Mongolia (between which the Gobi has never 
been a barrier), negotiates the Siberian 'centres' through the 

dress of the personages featured on the high reliefs of this cave is also to 
be found on an engraved stone of 529, now in Boston. See Bulletin of the Museum 
of Fine Arts, Boston, 1942, no. 242. The latest general studies on the sculpture 
of Yun-kang are those of Seiichi Mizuno, Unkd Sekkutsu to sono Jidai, Tokyo, 
1939, and Unk Sekibutsu-gun, Osaka, 1944. And on Lung-men, Seiichi Mizuno 
and Nagahiro Toshio, A Study of the Buddhist Cave-temples at Lung-men, 
Tokyo, 1941. 

m Siren, History of Early Chinese Art, iv, Architecture, pi. 105. 

81 See Seiichi Mizuno, Chinese Stone Sculpture, Tokyo, 1950, pis. vii and vin. 



Baikal basin, then, across the 'Dzungarian Pass', reaches the 
Balkhash basin, and north of the Aral Sea the Urals, the mouth 
of the Volga and the South-Russian steppe north of the Black 
Sea. This is the great 'Barbary Road', the one followed, over 
the ages, going from East to West, by Scythians and Sarmatians, 
Huns, Avars and Turko-Mongols; the one that was also follow- 
ed, in their dissemination from east to west, by the nomad 
arts', spread over long stretches of time, from the Great Wall 
of China as far as Hungary. Over this route, if we are to believe 
Kiselev and the other Soviet scientists, the stylized art of animal 
representation— the art of the steppes — evolved by the Siberian 
bronze-casters in the Karasuk period (1200-700 B.C.) was car- 
ried to southern Russia and Kuban by the Scythians, who emerged 
from the steppes of the Siberian Southwest— present-day Kaza- 
kistai*— about the middle of the eighth century B.C. 

2. The silk road that we have already spoken of. By its 
double trail, north of the Tarim (via Kucha and Karashar) and 
south of the Tarim (via Khotan), this road linked Kashgar to 
Lop Nor, in other words (back of Kashgar) Iran and India to 
(beyond Lop Nor) the Chinese outpost of Tun-huang. 

This second route, with its double trail, is the route of civil- 
ization in contrast to the other, which is the road of Barbary. 
It never served as a passage for invasions, for invasions in the 
Eurasiatic sphere are represented by hordes of horsemen, and 
the caravan and truck-garden oases of the Tarim basin, linked 
to one another by a slender thread of cultures through the im- 
mensity of the desert, could give passage only to processions of 
merchants, carrying in their bundles luxury products and new 
ideas. A trade route, appropriate to trade in ideas. It was over 
this route that the Graeco-Buddhist art of Afghanistan and of 
Punjab, as well as the Indo-Buddhist art of Mathura, had made 
their way toward the frontiers of China. The Graeco-Buddhist 
influences — Gandharian was the term only recently — predomi- 
nated in Rawak, near Khotan (first centuries A.D.), with stucco 
bas-reliefs, with altogether Hellenistic drapings, in accordance 

4o. Bodhisattva, polychromed clay, from Tun-huang. T'ang Dynasty. 
Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge* Mass. 

41. Buddhist procession, stone relief. T*ang Dynasty, eighth century. 
Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 


with the well known models of Hadda, in Afghanistan ° 2 ; but 
at the same time, in Ak-terek, likewise near Khotan, a certain 
statuette of a seated Buddha, in terra cotta, remains properly 
Mathuran, following the style of the Kushan Mathura, with its 
somewhat harsh yaksha face and the folds of its mantle drawn 
as if with a comb. 03 

There was also, finally, even for North China, the sea route. 
Five years before the fitting out of the Yiin-kang caves five monks 
arrived on the site, from Ceylon, with Buddhist works of art. 94 

We may mention at once by way of anticipation that a certain 
number of Graeco-Buddhist themes, having reached China via 
the Silk Road, were to be repeated on the rock reliefs of Yiin- 
kang. In Yiin-kang, in Shih-fo-ssu, in cave 6 (hence about 480), 
we shall see scrolls of acanthuses, of vine-leaves or grape-clusters, 
decorations of honeysuckle or rose-patterns, suggestions of Ionic 
capitals, all themes deriving from the Mediterranean world via 
Gandhara. A little further on, in cave 8, we find the specifically 
Indian influence triumphing, with a garudaraja having five heads 
and six arms at whose side is ensconced a three-headed Siva- 
MahSsvara, mounted on the bull Nandi. 95 Finally, the albums 
of photographs of Yiin-kang, prepared by the University of 
Kyoto and unfortunately not yet published, make clear the con- 
sistently close link between the Wei art of the fifth century and 
the Indian-Gupta art of the same period. 

w Aurel Stein, Ancient Khotan, n, pi. xiv ff. See at the Metropolitan of 
New York a large and very fine head of Buddha from Rawak, in the Hellenistic 
style of Hadda, estimated to be of the seventh century. 

M Idem, Serindia, pi. vm. Also reproduced by Siren in the collective volume, 
Studies on Chinese Art and some Indian Influences, India Society, 1938, pi. vi, 
&g. 25. 

•* Cf. Yashiro, Bulletin of Eastern Art, no. 15, March 1941, p. 7. 

* Siren, Chinese Sculpture, London, 1925, pis. 33-34. 



* * * 

These different sources were already to manifest themselves 
in varying proportions, these various types were already to recur 
in diverse ways on the first Chinese bronze statues of Buddhas. 
But we must remember also, as having possibly influenced the 
first Chinese Buddhas, the small figures of the Taoist mirrors, 
with squat bodies, in the 'rounded* style, wearing wholly native 
dress, such as we have already described; imitation of them would 
be only logical, since, as we have seen, the first Buddhist com- 
munities in China modelled themselves on the example of the 
f Church of Lao-tzu'. 

The specimen of specifically Buddhist Chinese statuette sculp- 
ture in bronze (or gilded bronze) that so far is regarded as the 
most ancient is the seated Sakyamuni, of 338, imported by Mr. C. 
T. Loo, with a robe having rather simple folds, but very geome- 
trically graded and symmetrical, and with scarves passing over 
the forearms and falling over the knees. 00 Next come the seated 
statuette of 429, in the K. Yamaguchi' collection, in Kobe, a 
bronze of the same type* 7 ; the standing Sakyamuni of 444, in 
the former Ito collection, in Tokyo, with wet' draping as in 
Mathura and outlined against an immense leaf-shaped halo end- 
ing in a point and edged by a fringe of flames 98 ; the Sakyamuni 
of 451, in the Freer Gallery, in Washington, a statuette seated 
Indian-fashion, with a tight-pleated garment (as in the 'Mathura- 
type' stuccos of Khotan), and here also backed by a great leaf- 

* H. Munsterberg, Buddhist Bronzes of the Six Dynasties, Artibus Asiae, 
ix, 4, 1946, p. 277, pi. I. Another good reproduction of the Buddha of 338 in 

-Harvard Journal of Astatic Studies, 1948, pp. 320-321. 

w Siren, Indian and Other Influences in Chinese Sculpture, Studies in Chi- 
nese Art, India Society, pi. vi, fig. 24. Similar in draping, but backed by an 
aureole surrounded by flames, a statuette of 437 (of the Nan-Sung of Nanking), 
reproduced in Seigai Omura, 'Shina bijutsushi, Ch6so-hen\ {'His to ire de VArt 
chinots. Sculpture 1 ), Tokyo, 1915, pi. 155, fig. 430. 

* Siren, loc. cit., pi. vi, Bg m 26. 


shaped halo adorned, along with a whole gamut of specifically 
Chinese scrolls, with three small Bodhisattvas similar to the 
principal Buddha"; the Padmapani of 453, standing against a 
large halo in cut-out flames, with a draping remarkable both for 
the scarves flying about the arms and for the twisted chain form- 
ing an X across his torso at the height of the navel (Freer Gal- 
lery) 100 ;the two(twin) standing statuettes of Sakyamuni and of 
Prabhutaratna of 473, in the Freer Gallery, whose sketchy, tightly 
pleated draping reminds us somewhat of the 'Kanishka reliquary* 
in Indian art 101 ; the standing Maitreya of 477 (and not 486) 
in the Metropolitan, and the seated Sakyamuni, in abhaya-mudra 
(hand making gesture of 'freedom from fear'), of 484, in the 
Fogg Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to which we shall 
refer again in connection with its classically 'gandharan' drap- 
ing 10 ' 2 ; the Buddha seated in abhaya-mudra, of 482, formerly 
in the Masuda collection, now in the Umehara collection (Ryu- 
zaburo), in Tokyo, with seven small manusi-Buddhas in the 
nimbus, a Buddha who, were it not for the flames bordering the 
periphery of the nimbus, would be purely Graeco-Buddhist by 
the serenity of the modelling and the persistent classicism of the 
mantle-draping. 103 But what is particularly remarkable is that the 
decoration of the reverse of the nimbus of this last piece has an 
absolutely different character, for it depicts eight episodes of the 
life of Sakyamuni, treated with the characteristically Chinese 
crowding of the Taoist mirrors of the Han or Six Dynasties. 104 
We may note that artistic considerations must, in this case, 
have had little weight What mattered, as far as the Buddhist 
missionaries were concerned, was converting the masses, 'evan- 

" Ibid., idem., pi. vi, fig. 27. 
*° Munsterberg, Op. cit., p. 291, pi. 5. 
** Idem., p. 294, pi. 6. 

"■ Siren, Op. cit. 9 pi. vii, &g. 28. Munsterberg, p. 298, pi. 8 and p. 295, pi. 7. 
"■ Omura, pi. 174, &g. 463. Sherman Lee, Five Early Gilt Bronzes, Artibus 
Asiae, xn, 1949, p. 5, figs. 1 and 2, 
304 Idem, p. 7, 


gelizing\ And to this end the Buddhist imagery, with its expres- 
sive representations, whether it had to do with the human life 
of the Buddha Sakyamuni, with its moving episodes, or with the 
paradise of the coming Buddhist 'messiahs' and 'saviors', Mai- 
treya, Avalokitesvara or Amitabha, was as effective as any preach- 
ing, 105 We may be sure that, moved by these pious considerations, 
the Buddhist missionaries borrowed their imagery from every 
source, especially as some came from the valley of Kabul and 
Punjab, with all their Gandharan 'Saint-Sulpice', while others 
stemmed from the 'seminaries' of Kashgaria where the most 
carious amalgam of images from every source was being de- 
veloped, and in addition these last preachers were simple Chinese 
neophytes who naturally introduced into Buddhism the whole 
tradition of the popular religious images of Taoism. 

These statuettes of an art that might be called 'primitive' 
Sino-Buddhist art will help us to understand the origins of the 
great sculpture that was to follow. Indeed we see developing in 
statuary during the whole Wei period two styles deriving from 
the same diverse influences. On the one hand a rounded style, 
having rather simple forms, which via the stuccos of Khotan may 
stem from the characteristically Indo-Buddhist art (that is to say, 
not Graeco-Buddhist) of Mathura in the Kushan and Gupta pe- 
riods, a style that may, aside from this, have been likewise 
influenced on the spot by the small figures of the Taoist mirrors. 
On the other hand, making its appearance about 440, an angular 
style, in which the treatment of the draperies obviously imitates 
the earlier Graeco-Buddhist style, but is now conventionalized, 
with the folds falling stiffly and ending in sharp points, produc- 
ing a 'swallow-tail' effect, and often with a floating 'shawl' like- 
wise ending in points. 100 A variation has the scarf falling from 

"■ a. Le Roy Davidson, Traces of Buddhist Evangelism in Early Chinese 
Arts, Artibus Asiae, n, 1948, p. 251. 

"■ Statuettes dated 484, 492, 498, 501, reproduced by Omura, plates 159, 177, 
191, 192. We may note that here, too, the inspiration is a double one. We find 


the shoulders and crossing over the belly where it forms a loop 
before continuing down to the feet, finally being brought up 
again at the back of the body. 107 

These two styles, as we said, coexisted, according to the work- 
shops, throughout the whole Wei period. On a number of statues 
and stone reliefs of Yiin-kang or steles of the same dates, the 
rounded forms prevail, with an 'assuaging' quality, a sheer gen- 
tleness, to which a Westerner is particularly sensitive, 108 But in 
Lung-men, in the Ku-yang-tung niches (of which the dates are 
509, 511 and 521 A.D.), it is the angular style that was to prevail, 
with elegant seated Bodhisattvas, slim and slender of figure. 109 
This style was to become accentuated to the point of arriving at 
curious formulae which pombine the elongation of some of our 
Romanesque figures (V&elay, Autun, Moissac) with ornamenta- 
tion that is the equivalent of a kind of 'flamboyant* Gothic. 
We may mention in this connection the 'conversation of Sakya- 
muni and Prabhtaratna', a gilt bronze of 518 in the Guimet 
Museum, with the angular fall of the folds of the finely-pleated 
mantles forming a geometric pattern. no Even more flam- 

the model of the floating scarves again both in China, on the handscroll of Ku 
K'ai-chih, and on the Indo-Buddhist frescoes of Central Asia (in KysiQ, as well 
as on the Indo-Wei frescoes of Tun-huang (particularly in the case of the apsaras 
who here correspond to our flying angels). 

w Topical of this crossing of the scarf to form an X through a ring at belly- 
height is the fine standing Bodhisattva of the Buddhist trinity in Yun-kang (end 
of fifth century), a relief reproduced by Langdon Warner, in Studies in Chinese 
Art, India Society, 1938, pi. v, fig. 7. See also the famous statue (in grey 
limestone) of a seated Bodhisattva, in abbaya-mudra, in the Boston Museum, a long 
hieratic figure found at Fai-ma-ssu of Lo-yang, which Siren (Chinese Sculpture, 
pi. 112) also dates from the Northern Wei. 

** Cave 24 of Yun-kang, reproduction in Siren, Chinese Sculpture, pis. 60 
and 66, and standing Buddha in abbaya-mudra and vara-mudra (hand gesture of 
'giving* — left arm pendent, hand turned palm outwards) in the Guimet Museum, 
probably from cave 26 of Yun-kang (Sirfe, pi. 69). And also the limestone stele of 
543, in the Gardner collection in Boston (Siren, pi. 180). 

** Siren, pis. 77-80. 

■" Georges Salles, Arts de la Chine Ancienne, pi. iv, fig. 6. Also in Leigh 
Ashton and Basil Gray, Chinese Art, London, 1935, pi. 54. 


boyant are the immense aureoles of the 'Berenson altar' in Flo- 
rence, a gilt bronze having the date of 529, 111 and of the 'John 
Rockefeller altar' in New York, likewise in gilt bronze and of 
approximately the same date, 112 or of two other small altars 
in gilt bronze of the former Yamanaka collection, reproduced 
by Siren, 118 all altars in which the aureole has its outside border 
edged either by a number of projecting bursts of flame, or by 
several apsaras (flying figures of feminine 'angels'), surrounded 
in turn by an outline of wisps having the appearance of flames 
(although these are really 'tails of flying clouds' in the manner 
of the Han bas-reliefs of Shantung, which shows the fusion here 
of native Chinese themes and Indian or 'Ser-Indian' themes). 114 
As we shall see, the angular style often prevailed in Lung-men, 
the drapery of the earlier Buddhist statues becoming stylized into 
long pleats with hems which form squares or lozenges, as in the 
reliefs of the Ku-yang-tung cave, as well as in so many fragmen- 
tary pieces from the same source which have gone into various 
collections. 115 

We may observe with one of the Japanese archaeologists 
who have specialized in the subject, Mr. Seiichi Mizuno, that 
in Yun-kang as in Lung-men the Buddhas are more often to 
be found in the 'rounded style', while the Bodhisattvas have a 
tendency to evolve toward the 'angular style'. 116 It should of 

m Ausstellung Chinesischer Kunst, Berlin, 1929, fig. 249. 

an Exhibition of Chinese Art, London, 1935, fig. 752. 

m Siren, Op. eit., pis. 154 and 156. 

*** See in Lung-men also the concentric circles patterned with Buddhas or 
apsaras, and with aureoles of flames, that often serve as background for the 
Bodhisattva statue (for example plate 208 of Omura's album-repertory). For 
the apsaras gliding through the air with their whirling scarves, see at the Lien- 
hua-tung of Lung-men the attractive high relief reproduced by Omura, pi. 213. 

m For example the small reliefs representing Bodhisattvas, in the Guimet 
Museum and the Michel Calmann collection (Georges Salles, Arts de la Chine 
Anrienne, pi. V, fig. 8). — We may recall that one of the niches of the Ku-yang- 
tung cave of Lung-men is of 509, another of 529. 

™* Mizuno, Chinese Stone Sculpture, 



course be recalled that such a differentiation is already to be 
noted in Central Asia, in the Buddhist stuccos and frescoes of 
the Tarim basin, the reason being that the Buddhas remained 
for a longer time canonically faithful to the Gandharan or Ma- 
thuran stereotypes, whereas for the Bodhisattvas the aesthetics 
of a later day could give itself free rein. 117 

A special feature in the evolution of styles is the way ir 
which tihe folds fall. We have seen that in Wei drapery the 
folds of the garment often end in sharp breaks, with a final 
'squared', or even more frequently 'lozenged' hem, and at times 
even, as on the Gardner stele of 543, with a hem that forms 
an 'ace of spades' pattern. The way in which the mantle falls 
and spreads on the pedestal comes to affect a rather curious 
'tubular' form, the folds assuming the 'piped' appearance of so 
many rigidly parallel cylinders. This is true, in particular, of the 
charming Maitreya in meditation, a stone of around 500, in the 
Hayasaki collection 118 and, more generally, of a great number 
of Bodhisattvas of angular style, of the Ku-yang-tung cave, in 
Lung-men, in the niches dated, as we have seen, 509, 511, 52L 119 
The same tube-effect persists on the Buddha of the grey limestone 
stele in the Philadelphia Museum, dated 546, thus already be- 
longing to the period of the Western Wei. 1 * Charles Vignier 
described them as 'corrugated iron' mantles. 

Under the Eastern and the Western Wei however, after the 
separation of 534, new tendencies appear. The former pattern of 
zig-zag folds and the flamboyant character of the decoration often 
gives way to a 'wavy pattern', at times very harmonious, as in the 
stele of 534, in the Metropolitan. 121 Or else the cylindrical treat- 

UT See, for example, the Buddha and the Bodhisattva of cave 23, in Yun-kang, 
reproduced by Siren, Chinese Sculpture, pi. 57. 

*■ For the Gardner stele, see Siren, ibid., pi. 180. For the Hayasaki Maitreya, 
ibid., pi. 135. 

*" Ibid:, pis. 77-80. 

*» Ibid., pi. 184. 

* Ibid., pi. 143. 


ment of the folds is replaced by a 'frothy' treatment, as in the 
drapery spread on the pedestal in a grey limestone stele, which 
dates back to the Eastern Wei, of the von der Heydt Collection. 122 
The evolution continues with the standing Padmapani, in marble, 
which is of the year 570 (hence of the period of the Pei-Ch'i), 
with the mantle spread over the pedestal in the form of wings, 
and having a rhythmical treatment of the draperies which is 
much less rigid, the folds billowing and falling more freely than 
in the earlier pieces. 128 

The sculpture of the Wei— whether it be that of the Wei of 
the North up to 534 or of their successors, the Eastern and Wes- 
tern Wei, after this date— represents one of the peaks of religious 
art of all time. It has a character to which we Europeans are 
particularly responsive, because in the elongation and simplicity 
of certain Wei reliefs, especially in the early Lung-men examples, 
we find fortuitous analogies with our own Romanesque sculpture, 
just as the assuagement, the simple delight of certain Yiin-kang 
statues might suggest to us the expansiveness and humanity of 
our Gothic. 124 In reality these are no more than crude analogies 
and 'first impressions*, since the evolution here is in the other 
direction and Yiin-kang preceded Lung-men. Moreover, as Va- 
dime Elisseeff points out, the elongation of forms may have been 
induced by the Chinese habit of writing vertically, this being 
the form of the inscriptions that are often found on these sculp- 
tures, in virtue of their being votive offerings. 

Aside from this, as Vadime Elisseeff has also noted, the 
contribution of China in the field of Buddhist art in the period 
of the Six Dynasties, and in particular under the Wei, lies essen- 

m Ibid^ pi. 176. This frothy treatment is markedly apparent also on a stele 
of the Western Wei, of 556, reproduced by Omura, pi. 235, fig. 579. 

m Former Getty collection (Siren, ibid., pi. 204-B). 

m Salmony, Europa-Ostasien, Religiose Skulpturen, Potsdam, 1922. — Mi- 
chael Griinwald, Geistige und stylistische Konvergenzen zwischen fruhbuddhi- 
stischen Skulpturen und religioser Plastik des fruhen Mittelalters in Europa, 
Artibus Asia*, IX, 1946, p. 34. 

42. Horse, pottery. T*ang Dynasty. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 

43. Relief on a fabe pillar in Ai-ko 4, Mai-chi-shan caves. T'ang 


tially in the expression of the face. Here again a double source 
of inspiration can doubtless be discerned: there are on the one 
hand faces that have Chinese features, and these are inherited 
from Han art; and on the other those with 'Gandharan* features 
that come from the Graeco-Buddhist source. In the second, 
we find a very late persistence, in the Buddhas or Bodhisattvas of 
the sixth century and even into the beginning of the seventh, of 
the Apollonian profile of the early Gandhara statues, as in the 
two famous heads of Bodhisattvas in limestone, of Sui style, in 
the Stoclet and Jean de Polignac (ex-Doucet) collections- 125 But 
with the exception of a few rare Hadda figures, the faces of 
Graeco-Buddhist Buddhas have a purely formal beauty, an inex- 
pressive coldness. 12 * The same holds for the Buddha heads of the 
Tarim Basin, in Central Asia, which for that matter are in general 
Graeco-Buddhist. The facial expression of Chinese Buddhas and 
Bodhisattvas, on the contrary, is a properly Chinese creation. 
'The Chinese sculptor has, by his own resources, successfully 
given life to the religious value of the heads that he has 
carved'. 127 

We shall mention in this connection only a certain Buddha 
seated in his niche, legs crossed, in abhaya mudra, in cave 24 in 
Yiin-kang, which we reproduce after Siren, ^ 8 or the head of 
the 'Worch Bodhisattva', now in the Los Angeles Museum, a 

135 Siren, pi. 304, C and D. And in larger size, the two Bodhisattva heads 
of grey limestone at the Philadelphia Museum, reproduced by Siren, pi. 113. 

*I am leaving aside, to be sure, the small Hadda stuccos, representing 
episodic or secondary figures, which on the contrary have faces that are often 
marvellously expressive. But the large Buddha heads, as such, remain very cold, 
even in Hadda. Only in two or three of them can one glimpse the adumbration 
of what was to become the 'inner smile* of Buddhism. And the anticipation of the 
Buddhist smile that thus appeared in Afghanistan influenced the Tarim basin 
hardly at all. I find a suggestion of the 'inner expression', however, in the Buddha 
head from Rawak (near Khotan), in the Metropolitan Museum. 

7X1 Vadime Elisseeff, Course at the Ecole du Louvre. 

** Siren, pi. 60. 


reproduction of which is to be seen on the ground floor of the 
Cernuschi Museum. 129 

It is only necessary to evoke such examples to understand 
that Buddhist spirituality found its expression at last in China. 
Like the face itself, the meditative attitude of the bodies also 
often evokes a spirituality of form that was unknown to Gan- 
dhara and that is likewise a specifically Chinese creation. 180 

* * * 

There can be no doubt that the variety in the modes of expres- 
sion of the religious art of the Six Dynasties was due to the 
influences exercised by the different Buddhist sects then in favour. 
The CI? an sect (in Sanskrit: dbyana, 'meditation, or religious 
contemplation'), founded at the beginning of the sixth century, 
and in which the cult of the individual absorbed the whole of 
religion, certainly played a part in the evolution of the meditative 
smile on the Wei Buddhas. 131 On the other hand, the Mount 
Tien-t'ai sect founded about 575 by the monk Chih-i, which 
tried to derive from the Lotus of the True Law a kind of syncre- 
tism with monist tendencies, had its share in imparting to the 
Buddhist heads an expression of intellectual austerity that was 
to mark some of the Sui and the Tang sculpture. 132 

Another sect that was later to exert a considerable influence 

** Otto Kummel, Georg Trubner zutn Gedachtnis, Berlin, 1930, pi. 59. 

** See, for example, the charming little Bodhisattva in meditation, from 
Lung-men, of the mid-sixth century, in the Michel Calmann collection (Georges 
Salles, Arts de la Chine ancienne, pi. v, fig. 8). And in large scale stone sculpture, 
in Yiin-kang itself, the famous seated Bodhisattva in meditation, left hand raised, 
one finger supporting the chin, of cave 30 (Siren, pi. 66). 

181 We have seen that according to tradition the dhyanic doctrine was intro- 
duced by the Indian patriarch Bodhidharma (in Chinese : Ta-mo), who is supposed 
to have arrived by sea about 520 in Nanking, whence he went to settle among 
the Wei, in Lo-yang. See Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series, London, 
1924, p. 106. 

** For the T'ien-t'ai monks, the Absolute (more precisely, 'Absolute Nature', 
in Sanskrit bhuta tatbata, in Chinese Chen-ju) is inherent in the world of pheno- 


on art was the Amidist sect. We have seen that from the end of 
the Han right into the period of the Six Dynasties a galaxy of 
Indian, Indo-Scythian and even Iranian missionaries had intro- 
duced to China the cult of the 'metaphysical Buddha' Amitabha 
(in Chinese: A-mi-t'o) and of the corresponding Bodhisattva, 
Avalokitesvara (in Chinese: Kuan-yin), compassionate saviours, 
who having explored the depths of suffering that creatures 
endured were dedicated to their rebirth in wonderful paradises. 
Amidism, beyond doubt influenced in its beginnings, in North- 
west India, by the Iranian 'religions of light', was to give rise in 
China to a religion of the heart, to a personal devotion to Ami- 
tabha and Kuan-yin, full of trust and tenderness. This doctrine, 
before long, influenced the art of Tun-huang, a far outpost of 
the Chinese frontier toward Tarim — Tun-huang, where the first 
Buddhist caves go back to 366 and where, in the period of the 
Wei, we see shrines set up in conjunction with Yun-kang (cave 
3-A). However, even though the Amidistic sect (having Taoist 
influences to boot) of the White Lotus boasted of having been 
founded as early as 381, it must be recognized that within China 
Amidism was really to make its influence felt on art only under 
the Pei-Ch'i, and more enduringly from the seventh century 
forward, under the Sui and the Tang. 133 

* * * 

Before leaving the art of the Wei, it should be recalled that 
their influence was not solely exerted by their Buddhist zeal. 
Tartar princes, horsemen of the steppe who had become masters 

mena, which theologically amounts to saying that the Buddhist nirvana is already 
inherent in transmigrating beings. An identity of contraries that has enabled 
certain Far-Eastern philosophers to consider the Tien-t'ai doctrine to be a kind 
of Buddhist Hegelianism. 

188 An important stage in the development of Chinese Amidism is marked 
by the coming of the Indian missionary Kalayasas who, in about 424, translated 
the text of the Amitayus dbyana sutra from Sanskrit into Chinese. 


of all North China, they made their epic tastes felt in their 
worship, and even in their votive offerings. Thus several of 
their steles (the stele of the Boston Museum, of 529, for example) 
develop on several registers cavalcades of donors on their gallop- 
ing or rearing steeds, all magnificently caparisoned and advanc- 
ing in triumphal procession. 134 We way observe also how lov- 
ingly, among the scenes of Buddha's life, they dwell in their 
representations on the farewell that the Blessed takes of his 
horse Kanthaka. 135 

It is to be noted further that in Lung-men we have the equi- 
valent of Wei frescoes of a truly lay character in the processions 
of donors, men and women, of the Pin-yang-tung cave, if this 
cave does indeed belong, as Sekino claims, to the years 535-536. 130 
Masculine costume and feminine dress here have a style and 
elegance that enable us to establish the link between Ku K'ai- 
chih's handscroll and Tang lay painting, as revealed to us by 
Tun-huang or the Shoso-in. 

* * * 

The brief dynasty of the Pei-Ch'i (550-577) is of considerable 
importance in the evolution of Chinese Buddhist sculpture. It 
was then that it began to free itself from the preponderance of 
monastic clothing as from the rigidity of the draping. It is un- 
doubtedly true that, as Vadime ElisseeflF observes, such a renewal 
had been under way since the crumbling of the Wei dynasty 
(534). The stiffness and the hieraticism of early Lung-men disap- 
peared gradually. The tubularity pf rigidly parallel folds increas- 

JH Siren, Chinese Sculpture, pi. 109-1 n. 

1,5 It was the Wei, it seems, who introduced the stirrup into Ch\r>* as it was 
the Avar, likewise originating from Upper Asia, who introduced it at about the 
same period into Hungary (Zoltan Takacs, L'art des grandes migrations en Hongrie 
et en Extreme-Orient, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, vii, 1931-32, p. 71). 

"■ Omura, pi. 202. There are rubbings at the Cernuschi Museum. Fragments 
of the procession of donors are now in the Metropolitan Museum. 


ingly gave way to asymmetrical, undulating effects whereby the 
body sought to reveal itself beneath the garment. This revolt of 
living forms against the 'Byzantine' hieraticism of early Lung- 
men became accentuated under the Pei-Ch'i. It was a rebirth of 
form. Siren sees here the influence of the Indian sculpture of the 
Gupta period, a sculpture in which the 'wet* and fluid garment 
was but a pretext for more effectively revealing, within the limit- 
ations imposed by Buddhist chastity, the soft lines of the Indian 
nude. 1S7 Without denying this external influence (which we shall 
find also in Tien-lung-shan), Vadim Elisseeff calls attention to 
the fact that the internal evolution of Chinese sculpture since 
the dividing of the kingdom of the Wei was in the same di- 

To the art of the Pei-Ch'i, characterized by this 'return to 
earth', by the reappearance of form in the Indo-Gupta sense of 
the word, we owe the sculptures in white sandstone on the cliffs 
of Tien-lung-shan, of caves 1, 2, 3 and in part of caves 8, 9, 10 
and 16 that were continued under the Sui. In the seated Buddhas 
the former rounded style reappears, but with a graded modelling 
that does in fact have direct or indirect links with the aesthetics 
of Gupta India. 138 The fall and spread of the folds of the mantle 
on the pedestal, to be sure, still preserved for a time the appear- 
ance of 'tubularity' to which attention has been called; but 
even this convention was to relax. The faces, too, lost the mystic- 
al, severe expression of Lung-men. They became more serene, 
softer, rounded 'in a modelling of fullness', and, without abandon- 

187 Siren, Indian and Other Influences in Chinese Sculpture, Studies in Chinese 
Art, India Society, London, 1938, pp. 29-30. Also Idem, Chinese Marble Sculp- 
tures of the Transition Period. b.m.f.e.a., Stockholm, 10, 1940, p. 484, studying 
various marble statues from the confines of Hopei and Honan, of the Pei-Ch'i 
period (years 570 to 57 % which are related by their Indianizing (Gupta-Indian) 
style to the style of Tien-lung-shan of the same period. On this last group, see 
Lartigue, Le sanctuaire bouddhique du Tien-long-shan, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, 
1924, p. 3. 

138 See, for example, in cave 16 of Tien-lung-shan, the seated Buddha repro- 
duced by Siren in Studies in Chinese Art, p. 31 and pi. XI, fig. 42. 


ing their Buddhist detachment, sometimes allowed an expression 
of purely human serenity to be revealed. This whole art was, in 
fact, becoming humanized. 

As our Japanese colleague Seiichi Mizuno observes, we can 
discern here the influence of Mahayanic neo-Buddhism', of the 
various forms of worship that had sprung from its doctrines 
of salvation, with their infinitely providential, infinitely compas- 
sionate divinities such as Amitabha and Maitreya. The Amidic 
and Maitreyan pietism and quietism led to a sculpture of gentle- 
ness of which Tien-lung-shan gives us the best examples. 139 As 
for the Buddhist saints (arhat, in Chinese lo-han), or the protec- 
tive and lightning-bearing genie Vajrapani, or the guardian kings 
of the Four Directions (the four lokapala; in Chinese: t'ien- 
wang), without relinquishing their harmony of proportion, they 
were beginning, by the expression of the eyes, of the nose, of 
the lips, gradually to reveal a distinct personality and a complex- 
ity of feeling that leads to the realism, fifty years later, of the 

To the period of the Pei-Ch'i and to the same style as the 
early Tien-lung-shan belong the first limestone sculptures of 
Hsiang-t'ang-shan, on the boundary of Hopei and Honan, which 
were still being produced under the Tang. 140 

Among the masterpieces of Pei-Ch'i sculpture must be men- 
tioned the small votive stele of white marble, from Hopei, for- 
merly in the Museum belonging to Prince Li in Seoul. 141 The 
chief figure, a slender Bodhisattva seated in meditation be- 
tween two tall trees, the right foot crossed over the left leg, has 
a purity of line, a sweetness and a grace that beggar description. 

m Mizuno, Chinese Stone Sculpture, p. 19. 

3 * Mizuno and Nagahiro, KySdd-zan Sekkustsu (Les grottes bouddbiqttes du 
Hiung-t'ang-sseu), Kyoto, 1937. — Mizuno, Chinese Stone Sculpture, p. 18 (ibid., 
pi. x, and map, p. 34). 

M Siren, A History of Early Chinese Art, III, pi. 65, A. A very similar stele, 
of 559 and coming from Ting-hsien, in Hopei, reproduced by Mizuno, op. cit., 
pi. ix, Bg. 19. 


The other two Bodhisattvas that flank him convey the same happy 
mood. Gone are the heavy drapings that replaced the body for 
the Wei sculptors of Lung-men. Here the body, especially in the 
case of the central figure, is restored in its smooth softness, mak- 
ing a link with the chaste, sweet nakedness of Gupta Indian art 
without dissipating (quite the contrary) the impression of spirit- 
uality — of spiritual bliss and at the same time of self-com- 
munion — of the whole. The two trees mingle their foliage in 
a harmonious 'rounding-ofP that forms a background for the 
flight of charming apsaras, not unlike our angels on a Christmas 
tree. On the trunks of the two trees two elegant dragons, in 
the style of the Han dragons of the Shen pillar, show us that 
the Sino-Indian symbiosis created by Buddhism has achieved a 
harmonious synthesis. On the base, two robust Vajrapani, in a 
posture of defense appropriate to genii whose role it is to pro- 
tect the faith, already foreshadow the war-like realism of the 
Tang. We may mention another stele of white micaceous marble, 
from Hopei, of similar composition (the Bodhisattva meditating 
in the same pose between two trees that mingle their foliage 
above him and between whose branches apsaras flutter), a stele 
exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum in which the smooth torso 
of the chief figure again proclaims the influence of the wet gar- 
ment* of Gupta India. 142 

Among the Pei-Ch'i fragments may be mentioned in parti- 
cular two micaceous white marbles in the Philadelphia Museum, 
both from Hopei artists' workshops. First an admirable Bodhi- 
sattva bust in which 'the modelling is extremely sensitive, sug- 
gesting rather than defining, and yet quite sufficient to convey 
an atmosphere, a veil of light and shade, or a reflection of that 
inward harmony that is also revealed in their smile'. 143 We 
here have, six hundred years ahead of time, the Chinese equiva- 
lent of the Khmer inner smile, of the 'Bayon smile'. The other 

M Sir&i, Chinese Sculpture, pi. 243-B. 

*° Idem, History of Early Chinese Art, hi, pp. 38-39 and pi. 66-B. 


Pei-Ch*i marble in Philadelphia is the statuette of a dvarapala 
(a temple-garden genie), head thrown back, in an appropriately 
menacing attitude, with realistic features and great muscular 
power, but without the exaggerations of the future war-like rea- 
lism of the Tang. U4 In strength as in grace, plastic beauty is 
thus restored to us. Chinese Buddhist art, even while it remains 
deeply religious, has become wholly human. For these diverse 
reasons, the brief period of the Pei-Ch'i marks the peak of 
Buddhist sculpture in China, and indeed more generally, of all 
Chinese sculpture. The workmanship', Vadim Elisseeff observes, 
'shows a restraint and a compelling emotion that Tang sculp- 
ture was never to equal*. 

In some of the Pei-Ch'i works the spontaneous humanization 
of Chinese sculpture is further strengthened by a direct Indian 
(Gupta-Indian) influence. Osvald Siren has called attention to 
this in the case of certain Buddhas of cave 16 of Tien-lung-shan, 
obviously inspired by models from Mathura and Sarnath. The 
evidence is even clearer in the case of limestone reliefs from the 
Nan-hsien-t'ang-shan caves near Chang-te, in the far north of 
Honan, and now in the Freer Gallery in Washington. 143 The 
scene represents a paradise, the paradise of the Bodhisattva Mai- 
treya or heaven of the tusita. In the center, the chief Bodhisattva, 
seated in abhaya-mudrci and surrounded by rows of Bodhisattvas 
with the lotus-pond of paradise before him; above him an elegant 
canopy amid foliage amongst which other Bodhisattvas sit in 
state on their lotus petals and apsaras fly about. On both sides, 
circular buildings, of which the upper story is occupied by other 
blessed ones. A paradisiac vision, expressed through a harmo- 
nious grouping of figures, arranged without any crowding or 
heaviness, along several lines of perspective, in a unified space* 
that shows that we here have a translation in stone of some 

** Idem, Ibid., pi. 66-A. 

"* Idem, Studies in Chinese Art, India Society, London, 1938, pis. xi-xii, 
Bgs. 43-45. 

44. Figure of a lady, pottery. T'ang Dynasty. British Museum, London. 


painting, in the manner of the 'paradises' of Tun-huang. Slight 
though the relief given to the forms may be, they have in fact 
been caressed by so gentle a chisel that they stand out delicately. 
Sir&i is right to connect it with similar examples of 'chisel paint- 
ing' that Gupta or post-Gupta art offers us in Java (in Borobudur 
for example): the Freer Gallery relief is Indo-Peich'i painting. 

After Two Hundred and Seventy Years of Tartar Invasions and 
of Dismemberment, China Is Again Unified 

As we have seen, the Turkish house of the Tabghach (To-pa 
in Chinese transcription), which soon became known by the 
Sinicized name of the Wei dynasty (Northern Wei), had by 423 
(to use .a conventional date, marked by the occupation of Lo- 
yang) unified all the rest of North China, that is to say Tartar 
China, which had been occupied since 318 by the other Turko- 
Mongolian hordes. We have also seen that in 534 this Turko- 
Mongolian dynasty, by now wholly Sinicized, had divided into 
two branches, the Eastern Wei (in Honan, Shansi, Shantung and 
Hopei) and the Western Wei (in Shensi and Kansu). 14 * Then 
each of these two dynasties was replaced by its palace mayors; 
the Eastern Wei in 550 by the Pei-Ch'i, the Western Wei in 
557 by the Pei-Chou. We have just seen what a considerable role, 
despite the briefness of their rule (550-577), was played by the 
Pei-Ch'i as protectors of Buddhist art: in Buddhist sculpture (in 
Tien-lung-shan and in Hsiang-t'ang-shan for example) the 're- 
birth* of form, following upon the 'medievalism' of Lung-men, 
dates from their reign. This liberation of form will be better 
understood if we consider the personality of one of them, king 
Wen-kung (565-577). This monarch, as devout as he was whim- 
sical, had gathered together all the beggars of his capital in the 
grounds of his palace and made a 'village for the poor'; he 

** On the Wei court some years before this partition, see Peter Boodberg, 
Coronation of fo-pa Hsiu, 531, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1940, p. 240. 


would amuse himself by soliciting alms on their behalf, in a 
transparent disguise, among the lovely ladies of his court. 

In 577 this amiable sovereign was overthrown and put to 
death by the neighbouring and rival dynasty of the Pei-Chou. The 
victor happened to be a rigid Confucianist who by 574 had had all 
the Buddhist temples in his State, and the Taoist ones as well, 
closed down. Fortunately for Buddhist art, the Pei-Chou were 
dethroned and replaced in 581 by their palace mayor, Yang Chien, 
the founder of the Sui dynasty. 

Yang Chien was to reign not only over the provinces of the 
North like the former Wei sovereigns whose throne he occupied, 
but over all China, since in 589 he subjugated the provinces of 
the South — the Nanking empire — , thus bringing to an end the 
'great schism' between the North and the South that had lasted 
two hundred and seventy years. Thus he reestablished Chinese 
unity at last, with Sianfu (Ch'ang-an), the ancient metropolis 
of the Han, as his capital. 147 Now Yang Chien was personally 
favourably disposed towards Buddhism. He revoked Pei-Chou s 
edicts against the sanctuaries of this religion, had a quantity of 
statues replaced or restored and a great number of new ones 
made. 148 No less pious in respect to the Taoist creeds (or those 
assimilated to Taoism), he undertook in 596 the pilgrimage of 
the holy mountain of Tai-shan. This man of action showed hostil- 
ity only toward Confucianist rhetoric. Thus he was moved, in 
601, to close down numerous schools and thereby brought upon 
himself the lasting reprobation of future scholars. 

The son and successor of Yang Chien, emperor Yang-ti (605- 
618), also protected Buddhist sculpture. In his fondness for 
display and for a life of pleasure, however, he devoted himself 

lfl See Siren, Tch'ang-ngan au temps des Souei et des Tang, Revue des Arts 
AsJatiques, IV, 1922, 98-104, pp. 40-46. 

148 Two famous Indian missionaries, Narendrayasas and Dinagupta, who had 
had to flee the persecution of 574, returned to Ch'ang-an after the accession to the 
throne of the Sui who protected them (Bagchi, pp. 270, 276; Chavannes, T'oung 
poo, 1905, p. 256). 


particularly to embellishing Lo-yang (after moving there from 
Sianfu) and to establishing (or re-establishing) a network of river 
communications between this city and the mouth of the Yangtze. 
This was the first 'Grand Canal' (Yiin-ho), the course of which 
stretched from Chiang-tu (present-day Yang-chou), on the estuary 
of the river, to Lo-yang. On the great Canal, escorted by a plea- 
sure flotilla — the famous 'dragon barks' — Yang-ti with his court 
led an 'inimitable life', a 'Venetian feast' existence that has in 
fact left an enchanted memory in the Chinese poetic imagination. 
Unfortunately the digging of the Canal and the fitting out of 
the palaces and parks of Lo-yang entailed terrible requisitions, 
a frightful abuse of the system of forced labor that soon ruined 
the popularity of the Sui dynasty. When military disasters in 
Korea further aggravated the general discontent, revolt broke 
out on all sides and Yang-ti perished by assassination (618). 149 

* * * 

Brief though the Sui dynasty was (589-618), it was, neverthe- 
less, of great historical importance, because by reestablishing the 
territorial unity of China it stimulated a new ferment of ideas. 
In particular, we see an interesting tendency toward syncretism 
manifesting itself at this time, both among Confucianist scholars 
and Buddhist metaphysicians. Thus the Confucianist Yen Chih- 
t'ui, in the moral instructions that he published about 580, does 
not hesitate, in order to support his theses, to use Buddhist anec- 
dotes or Taoist formulae. So too the monk Chih-i (died in 597) 
who had founded a famous Buddhist sect in 575 on Mount T'ien- 
t'ai (in Chekiang) not only introduced into his monism, as we 
have seen, the most varied doctrines of Indian Buddhism, but also 
implicitly accepted points of view that we guess to be se- 
cretly Taoist. The Ma-ha-chib-kuan, a comprehensive elucidation 

** Peter Boodberg, Rise and Fall of the House of Yang, Harvard Journal 
of Astatic Studies, 1940, p. 255. 



of his system, which he published in 594, is evidence of this 
curious state of mind. His epitaph is presumed to have been com- 
posed by the future emperor Yang-ti. 

Meanwhile the Amidic doctrines, although they are at the 
opposite pole of Buddhist thought, were also progressing. In 
the last years of the sixth century the Indian missionary Bodhisri, 
who had come to preach in Honan, converted the Taoist monk 
Tan-luan (died about 600), who became the founder of a native 
Amidist school represented after him by Tao-ch c ao (died in 645) 
and Shan-tao (about 660). 

During the two and a half centuries of invasions and of civil 
wars that had preceded the accession to the throne of the Sui, 
many works had been lost. Once order had been restored and 
unity again consolidated, the Sui turned their minds to drawing 
up a catalogue of all surviving books. This repertory, the Sui 
Ching-chi-chih, completed about 610, shows the effort made by 
Chinese erudition to link up with the past. After so many ca- 
tastrophes in which traditional culture had undergone such dan- 
gers, the period of the Sui thus appears to us as marking the 
dawn of a conscious and methodical rebirth of humanism. 

Sui art is represented chiefly by Buddhist sculpture. To this 
period belong caves 2 and 4 in Lung-men, and in T'ien-lung- 
shan a good part of caves 8, 9, 10 and 16. w0 The rock sculp- 
tures (gray limestone) of To-shan, Yun-men-shan (near I-tu) and 
Yu-han-shan (near Chi-nan), in Shantung, are also Sui. 151 We 
find here a marked reaction against the gentleness of the Pei-Ch'i 
style. Perhaps, as suggested above, this may be accounted for by 
the influence of the dogmatic severity of the Buddhist sect of the 
T*ien-t'ai. Sui sculpture is indeed characterized by squat, rigid 
bodies, at times slightly ovoid, yet always exuding energy, but 
rough, modelled without delicacy and hewn, as it were, out of 

SirAa, Chinese Sculpture, pis. 293-299. 
MLzuno, Chinese Stone Sculpture, p. 22. 

45. Vaiiravana with Attendants. Painting on silk. Sung Dynasty. Musie 
GuimcU Paris. 


46. Cup. Sung Dynasty. Musee Guimeu Paris. 

47. Cup % celadon. Sung Dynasty. Music Guimet* Paris. 


a single block." 8 The robes, while rather light, cover the whole 
body, but without clinging to the flesh as was the case with the 
Pei-Ch'i or Gupta 'wet draping'. The eyes are lively, but the 
hps have a severe expression. As Seiichi Mizuno remarks, the 
rigidity of these Sui statues is quite different from the mystical 
hieraticism of early Lung-men, in the time of the Wei, just as 
their roundness no longer has anything of the mellowness of the 
rounded style of the time of the Pei-Ch'i. 1 " The faces, surmount- 
ing rigid necks of a tubular appearance ("in high starched col- 
lars'), faces having a somewhat self-satisfied expression, but full 
of dignity and distinction, are crowned with tiaras and set off by 
pendants, which Seiichi Mizuno regards as an expression of the 
luxury of Yang-ti's court. 1 " The figures are usually adorned with 
a heavy chain, often looped, falling from the shoulders and 
crossing in front, at the waist, where it is fastened by a round 
buckle, from which it continues to halfway down the leg and 
is finally brought up again to the waist behind; at the same time 
the mantlet or scarf that covers the shoulders extends into long 
falls that descend from the forearm to the feet. 155 

A special place in Sui art must be assigned to the altar centre- 
piece, in bronze, in the Boston Museum, dated 593, with a Buddha 
crowned by a halo of flowers and flames. This Buddha is in 
abhayamudra, seated on lotus pedestal, with the apostles Ananda 
and Kasyapa at his sides, followed by two monks. Forming a 
canopy above the group are the branches and elaborately cut-out 
leaves of a large tree, which are adorned with garlands and dra- 
peries and peopled by Buddhas of times past or apsaras in des- 

m Statues of Ananda and Kasyapa, micaceous marbles, colored with green 
and brown insets, former Vignier- Densmore collection, now in the Guimet Museum 
(Sirfn, pi. 327. Georges Salles, Arts de la Chine Ancienne, Musfc de l'Orangerie, 
1937, pi. viil, figs. 14-15). 

** Mizuno, Op. cit., p. 22. 

** See the famous heads of the Stoclet and Jean de Polignac (former Doucet) 
collections, reproduced in Siren, Chinese Sculpture, pi. 304. 

*" lbid^ pis. 300, 307, 308. 


cending flight. At the foot of the stand are two independent 
statues of standing Bodhisattvas, with tall tiaras, their heads 
surrounded by pointed halos, one of them holding the Fruit, the 
other with hands joined. 156 The group is interesting less for the 
statuary that composes it than for its 'astonishingly rich and florid' 
ornamentation and for the revelation that this example of Sui 
religious art, of the vulgarized variety, affords us of the devo- 
tional life. 

Among many lesser works, it is possible that the Sui period 
may also have produced real masterpieces if we attribute to it, 
as according to Siren we should, the two statues of Bodhisattvas, 
standing 'in an upright pose'. They are carved in grey limestone, 
1.86 metres and 1.90 metres respectively, and were found in Nan- 
hsien-t'ang, in the extreme north of Honan. They are now in 
the Philadelphia Museum. 157 The somewhat haughty dignity, 
the regal majesty, the solemnity of these tall figures in which the 
plastic values, which have by now triumphed, are entirely subor- 
dinated to the theological sentiments expressed; the richness 
— still sober — of their necklaces with pendants and of the chain 
of jewels brought together in front, in an 'X', and set in a buckle 
in the middle of the torso — all this combines to make the two 
'adorned Boddhisattvas' of Philadelphia the equivalent of our 
noblest episcopal figures in Gothic statuary at its apogee. The 
Philadelphia Museum also has a statue of a monk standing, in 
a strictly frontal pose, holding in both hands, as though it were 
a jewel, a lotus bud. The statue, 1.65 metres tall, is of grey lime- 
stone. The head is realistic, and the expression calm. It has 
all the qualities of a portrait, and the whole figure, with its sober 
drapery falling in long diagonal folds, has a Roman majesty. We 
shall have cause to remember this figure and its treatment when 
we study Japanese art in the Kamakura period and come, for 

Ibid., pis. 319, 320, 321. 
Ibid., pis. 469 and 471. 


example, upon the wooden statue of Asanga in the Kofukuji in 
Nara, dated 1208. 158 

To the Sui period is usually attributed a whole category of 
terra cottas, in particular some statuettes of women wearing a 
characteristic costume. 'Still more slender than those of the Nor- 
thern Wei dynasty', Siren writes, 'their bodies are squeezed into 
stiff diminutive corsets placed high under the bosom, so that the 
torso is like a narrow tube'. Their elegance is further heightened 
by sleeves that flare at the wrist, and from which long falls descend 
to knee-height at either side. The skirts flare slightly towards 
the hem, the lower part being adorned with flame-like pennants 
that project from the sides. Elaborate head-dresses, in the form 
of high crowns or double crescents, and curious shoes with turned- 
up toes, complete the whole. 159 The attribution of these elegant 
'mannequins' to the Sui period is due to analogies of dress with 
certain dated Bodhisattvas (in particular the arrangement of the 
falls of the sleeve). 160 

"" Ibid., pi. 470. Otto Kummei, Van de I' Extreme-Orient, pi. 108-109. While 
we recognize in the monk of Philadelphia a happy rhythm close to Greek clas- 
sicism as also to our 'full Gothic', there is perhaps more true religious sentiment 
in the Ananda and the Kasyapa acquired by Mr. Georges Salles and now in the 
Guimet Museum. 

*■ Siren, History of Early Chinese Art, pi. 91-92. 

160 See the grey limestone stele from the David Weill collection, Siren, Chi- 
nese Sculpture, pi. 364. In point of fact, the Buddhist monk Tao-hsuan (died 667) 
the author of the Hsu Kao-ch'uan, 'complained that the sculptors made their re- 
ligious images look like dancing girls, so that every court wanton imagined that 
she looked like a Bodhisattva'. Ibid., Vol. 1, p. xcu. 

48. Guardian lion, white marble. T'ang Dynasty. Nelson Gallery of 
Arty Kansas City. 

Chapter Four 

Accession of the Vang 

The T'ang dynasty (618-907) corresponds to one of the great- 
est periods in China's history — in the first period (618-755) both 
from the 'cultural* point of view and by virtue of Chinese expan- 
sion in Upper Asia, in the second phase (755-907) because China, 
while in principle thrown back upon its traditional frontiers, 
nevertheless continued to be a powerful radiating centre for all 
East Asia. 

The T'ang dynasty had been founded, with the placing of 
the old general Li Yuan on the throne, through the exceptional 
valour of the latter's son, young Li Shih-min, who triumphed over 
all the competitors who had arisen amid the collapse of the Sui 
dynasty. 1 li Shih-min, who soon became Emperor Tai-tsung 
(T'ai-tsung the Great'), in the course of one of the most 
triumphant reigns in Chinese history (627-649), vanquished the 
Turks of Mongolia and imposed his suzerainty upon the small 
Indo-European kingdoms of Central Asia (Turfan, Karashar, 
Kucha to the north, iChotan and Yarkand to the south, Kashgar 

1 See Woodbridge Bingham, The Founding of the Tang Dynasty, Baltimore, 
1942. C. P. Fitzgerald, Son of Heaven. A biography of Li Shih-min, founder of 
the Tang dynasty y Cambridge, 1933. Bingham, The Rise of Li in a Ballad 
Prophecy, Journal of the American Oriental Society* Vol. 61, No. 4, pp. 272-280. 


to the west). His influence made itself felt beyond the Pamirs, as 
fax as the Indo-Iranian confines. Under his son Kao-tsung (650- 
683)> though he conquered Korea, Chinese hegemony in Upper 
Asia was challenged anew by the incursions of the Tibetans and 
the revolt of the Turks of Mongolia. Kao-tsung's widow, the 
formidable empress Wu Hou, better known by the name of Wu 
Tse-t'ien, successfully repelled the enemy onslaughts (684-705). 
Chinese hegemony in Central Asia was re-established in the reign 
of Emperor Hsiian-tsung, also named Ming-huang (712-756), 
whose armies reached present-day Soviet Turkestan and were 
even called upon to fight as far afield as certain frontier-districts 
of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. In other respects, too, 
the reign of Hsiian-tsung, because of its splendour in all do- 
mains, and because of the galaxy of great poets who flocked to 
this prince's court, in Ch'ang-an, was one of the 'great reigns' of 
Chinese history. 

In the end, from 751 and especially from 755 on, the great 
reign terminated in great disasters — defeats in Turkestan and in 
Yunnan, internal revolts. The T'ang dynasty was finally saved, 
the court of Ch'ang-an was again to enjoy bright days, but the 
Chinese protectorate could not be reestablished in Upper Asia. 
In 907 the house of the T'ang, shaken by the ravages of a fearful 
peasant uprising, was overthrown by a rebel general and China, 
for fifty-three years (907-960), fell back into anarchy. 

* * * 

The reconstituting of Chinese unity, the bringing together of 
North and South after more than two and a half centuries of 
separate life, had created grave problems. The Sui dynasty had 
reigned too short a time to solve them. The T'ang dynasty had 
ample leisure to devote itself to them. 2 For the study of the 'clas- 

* See Robert des Rotours, Le Traite des Examens (translated from the Hsin 
Tang Sbu 9 The New History of the Tang), Bibliotheque de 1'Institut des Hautes 

the t'ang period 179 

sical' books, that is to say of the Confucian canon which, as we 
know, is so important in Chinese social morality, there were now 
two traditions and two methods, the version and tradition of the 
North, and the southern version and tradition. The Tang, after 
having reestablished the institution of regular literary competi- 
tions for the recruiting of officials, undertook to establish a uni- 
form interpretation of the canonical 'Confucian' texts. They took 
as the basis of their recension the critical work undertaken in this 
field by Lu Te-ming (or Lu Yuan-lang), a Confucianist scholar 
strongly opposed to Buddhism and to Taoism, who after having 
been the imperial librarian under the Sui lived long enough (he 
died only in 625) to collaborate with the new dynasty. Emperor 
Tai-tsung instructed the Confucianist scholar K'ung Ying-ta 
(died in 648) and other learned men of the same training to 
draft an official commentary of the canonical books. The text of 
the Confucian 'Classics* thus established was engraved on stone 
during the K'ai-ch'eng period (836-840). 3 

The engraving on stone of the Confucian Classics was to 
lead, through the impressions that were taken of these, to the 
discovery of printing — a discovery that in fact dates from the 
Tang period. Actually the 'impression' principle went back even 
further, to the talisman-seals, both Buddhist and Taoist, and to 
the 'little edifying tracts' on xylographic plates, which the propa- 
gandists of both Churches, from the time of the Six Dynasties, 
turned out in great number and distributed. In this way Buddhists 
and Taoists reached the point, under the Tang, of being able to 
print actual works of literature, such as The Million of Dharani 
(Buddhist magic formulae), printed in Japan between 764 and 

Etudes Chinoises, Vol. ir, Paris, 1932. Idem, Traiti des Fonctionnaires et Trahi 
de VArmie (translated from the same source), Bibliotheque de l'lnstxtut des Hautes 
Etudes Chinoises, Vol. vi, 2 vols., Leiden, 1947, 1948. K. Bunger, Quellen zur 
Reditsgeschichte der Tang-2fcit, Monumenta Serica, ix, 1946. 

8 We may recall that this in no way constitutes an innovation. The Chinese 
classics had already been engraved on stone at the end of the Han period, between 
175 and 183 a.d, 


770. By the beginning of the ninth century astrological calendars 
for popular use were also printed, in China. The oldest printed 
book deserving the designation is the scroll of the Diamond Sutra 
(Chin-kang-ching), a Buddhist treatise pubblished in 868 and 
now in the British Museum. It is curious to note that, through a 
conservative prejudice, the Confucianist scholars were at first 
hostile to this invention. They frowned upon it as being a Bud- 
dhist and Taoist innovation, which moreover was tainted with 
superstition. Thus it was only at the end of the T'ang period that 
properly literary texts began to be printed. And it was in fact 
only after the fall of the T'ang, in the period of the Five Dynasties 
(907-960) and especially in the Sung period (960-1276), that 
printing came into general use. The Confucian Classics were at 
last engraved on wood — that is to say, printed — in 932. 4 

The First Tang Emperors and the Influence of Buddhism 

The first Tang sovereign, Li Yuan, emperor Kao-tsu, had 
supported the Confucianist reaction against Buddhism, which 
was openly acknowledged as having enjoyed too great favour 
under the Sui dynasty. 5 Among the grievances that the old Con- 
fucianist scholar Fu I (died 639) held against the Buddhists and 
to which the new court lent a favourable ear, we note a protest 
against the too great number of Buddhist statues made under 
the Sui. In 626 an edict was promulgated that sought to limit the 
number of Buddhist or Taoist temples. In reality the Buddhist 
foundations, from 636 on, soon resumed their activity. In 639 
we find a high imperial official, Ma Chou, a minister of Emperor 
T'ai-tsung, ordering a statue for a monastery in Ch'ang-an, the 
Tang capital — the powerful grey limestone statue representing 

See summary by Mme Vandier-Nicolas, in Georges Salles, Arts de la Chine 

ancienne, p. 70, based on Pelliot's course on the origins of printing in China. 

5 The Confucianist Han Yu, in his famous pamphlet of 819, even assures us 

that Emperor Kao-tsu sought to eradicate Buddhism (Margoulies, trans. Le Kou- 

wen % p. 200). 


Sakyamuni seated, now in the Takahashi collection in Tokyo. 
This is the first dated T'ang statue. 6 A stele of 641 mentions the 
hollowing out or the restoration of several rock sanctuaries. 7 An 
inscription of 644 enables us to date a part of the rock sculptures 
of the Sheng-t'ung-ssu, in Shantung, sculptures that were begun 
under the Sui and, as we see, continued under emperor T'ai- 
tsung. But the decisive event that put an end to the imperial 
prejudices against Buddhism was the triumphal return of the 
pilgrim Hsiian-tsang. 8 

Hsiian-tsang, who was born in Lo-yang about 602, had been 
raised in the Gonfucianist tradition. At the age of thirteen he 
was converted to Buddhism and became a monk. In 629 he set 
out for India, both in order to visit the Buddhist holy places in 
that country and to study the Sanskrit canonical texts on the 
spot. For this great traveller was at the same time, as we shall 
see, a remarkable philosopher. Permission to leave was refused 
him, incidentally, by the Tang court, either because the voyage 
that he was about to undertake was considered too dangerous or, 
more probably, because the young Emperor T'ai-tsung at this time 
had little sympathy for Buddhism. 

In order to reach India Hsiian-tsang followed the northern 
trail of the ancient Silk Road, through the principalities of Tur- 
fan, Karashar and Kucha. These three centres, as we know today, 
were inhabited by populations of Indo-European language, having 
an economy that was based both on agriculture and on the 
caravan trade, and profoundly Buddhist in religion. It was really 
like an 'Outer India', so completely had Buddhism introduced 
Sanskrit culture, with its holy writings, at the same time as the 
schools of art that the Buddhist missionaries brought everywhere 

8 Siren, Chinese Sculpture, pi. 365. 

7 So-called I-ch'ueh-fo-kan-pei stele, referred to by Mizuno, Chinese Stone 
Sculpture, p. 23. 

8 May I be allowed to refer, for the detail and bibliography of the subject, 
to my book Sur les traces du Bouddha, 1948 edition. 


with them. The Buddhist caves of Karashar have yielded up 
Graeco-Buddhist heads in stucco, absolutely similar to those of 
Hadda (Afganistan) that we can admire at the Kabul Museum 
or at the Guimet Museum; a little further to the west, the caves 
of Kysil, near Kucha, have revealed to us mural paintings whose 
first flowering Hackin situates approximately between 450 and 
650 and in which the influences that we find side by side include 
the Graeco-Buddhist (in the Buddhas), the Indo-Gupta (in the 
Bodhisattvas, the apsaras and many feminine figures) and the 
Sassanid Iranian (in the lay noblemen and ladies of the court). 

These details are to be remembered, for Hsiian-tsang was 
certainly not the only Chinese pilgrim or traveller to have come 
upon the highly interesting artistic complex of this region. We 
shall have to bear them in mind when we come to examine a 
Tang bas-relief at the Guimet Museum representing a prince 
and his court with markedly Kuchean costumes. 10 

Hsuan-tsang, after having visited the then deeply Buddhist 
provinces of Kapisa (region north of Kabul) and of Gandhara 
(region of Peshawar), in present-day Afghanistan and present- 
day Pakistan, sojourned for nearly fourteen years in India, par- 
ticularly around Benares and in the Magadha (South-Bihar), in 
which countries were to be found not only the most venerated 
sanctuaries of the Buddhist 'Holy Places', and the doctors most 
reputed for their mastery of Sanskrit philosophy, but also the 
most active centres of Gupta and post-Gupta Indian sculpture. 
We must not forget such relations when we study Gupta influen- 

• Hackin, in Reau, Histoire Unherselle des arts, vol. iv, 1939, p. 267. 
Without referring here to the great English and German albums mentioned later, 
we may note here a few useful summaries: Von Le Coq, Bilder atlas zur Kunst 
und Kuhutgeschhhte Mittelasiens, Berlin, 1925. Idem, Buried Treasures of Chinese 
Turkestan, 1928. Aurel Stein, On Ancient Central-Asian Tracks, London, 1933. 
E. Waldschmidt, Gandhara, Kutscha, Turjan, Leipzig, 1925. F. H. Andrews, 
Central-Asian Wall Paintings, in Indian Art and Letters, viii, 1, London, 1934. 
Harada, Costumes Observed in the Paintings of Chinese Turkestan, Tokyo, 1925. 

" Siren, Chinese Sculpture, pi. 448. 


ces on Tang statuary, for example at Tien-lung-shan. Hsuan- 
tsang returned from India in 644, this time by the southern trail 
of the Silk Road, via Kashgar, Yarkand, Khotan, Lop Nor and 
Tun-huang. He brought back with him numerous texts of what 
is perhaps the most interesting philosophic system of Mahaya- 
nist Buddhism, the system of absolute idealism, which is in fact 
called, in Sanskrit, idealist system (vijfianavada) or mystical 
system (yogacara), 11 and in Chinese ja-hsiang school. 12 This 
mystical idealism that Hsuan-tsang was to disseminate through- 
out China with admirable philosophic genius and zeal can in- 
dubitably be found to have left traces on more than one Tang 
work of art. We may add, moreover, that on his return to China 
in 645 Hsuan-tsang also brought back with him several Indian 
statues, which at that date must have been of Gupta or immed- 
iately post-Gupta style. 13 India had already witnessed a preestab- 
lished harmony between this fluid idealism, preached there not 
long before by the two metaphysicians Asanga and Vasubandhu 
whom Hsiian-tsang now professed to be following, and the gen- 

11 See VijHaptimatrata siddhi t Hsuang-tsang's treatise of metaphysics, translat- 
ed by La Vallee-Foussin, which I have myself summarized in my Philosophies 
indiennes, vol. n, pp. 80-130 and 404-414. 

B Fa-hsiang (in Japanese hossd) translates the Sanskrit term of dbarma- 
IdksaQa literally 'examination of the (Buddhist) Law*. The School is also called 
in Chinese Wei-shih School, a translation of the Sanskrit vijftanamatra or absolute 
idealism, and likewise Yu-chUeh-sbih School, a transcription of yogacara (mystical 

33 The list of seven pieces of sculpture brought back from India to China 
by Hsuan-tsang was completely and correctly translated by Pelliot for the first 
time and used by Siren (Siren, Chinese Sculpture, Introduction, pp. lxxxvii- 
lxxxviii). It is even possible, as the Japanese archaeologist Seiichi Mizuno believes, 
that the influence of Hsuan-tsang's voyage and of the two voyages (in 643 and 647) 
by the Chinese ambassador Wang-Hsuan-ts'e to India is to be found belatedly 
in the t'm or 'heavenly terraces , in the manner of Indian stupa, of the K'uang- 
chai-ssu temple, in Ch'ang-an, one of which terraces was erected under the reign 
of the empress Wu Tse-t'ien (684-705), the other under the reign of Hsuan-tsung 
(712-756). The Buddhist trinities that appear on them show a suavity of line, 
rounded torsos, a feeling for form that are both deeply human and delicately 
idealized, all of which are characteristic of Indian Gupta art (Mizuno, Chinese 
Stone Sculpture, p. 25X 


tie Gupta forms of the same period. Hsiian's metaphysical ten- 
dencies, added to the exemplars of iconography provided by the 
statues brought back by him, could not but favour, at least in 
a few schools of pious makers of images, the taste that we shall 
see triumph in caves 6 and 14 at Tien-lung-shan. 

Emperor Tai-tsung the Great, having quite overcome his 
initial hostility to Buddhism, gave Hsuan-tsang a most favourable 
reception. The statues and the texts brought back by the pilgrim 
were solemnly deposited in one of the Ch'ang-an convents, 'the 
Monastery of the Great Benedictions' (Hung-fu-ssu), whence 
they were finally transferred to the 'Convent of the Great Be- 
neficence* (Ta-tz u-an-ssu), a temple that the emperor had had 
specially built to this end. It was in the latter retreat that the 
illustrious traveller and metaphysician was to end his days. He 
died in 664, after having composed, in addition to the treatise 
of Buddhist philosophy of which we have already spoken (the 
Siddht), numerous translations of Sanskrit works, as well as a 
description of the lands traversed by him in Upper Asia and 
in India, the Hsi-yu-chi, a geographic document of the highest 
value, to which must further be added the picturesque account 
of the incidents of his voyage left by his disciples Hui-li and 
(secondarily) Yen-ts'ung (whose account was published in 688). 14 

Hsuan-ts ung is far from being the only Chinese pilgrim to 
have gone to India in search of wisdom. Many were the monks 
who followed his example and made the pilgrimage to the 
Buddhist holy land, some, like himself, across central Asia, 
over the double trail of the Silk Road, others by sea, usually 
stopping off in Java and in Sumatra, countries that were then 
virtual advance posts of India, provinces of Outer India. 15 The 

14 French translation by Stanislas Julien (Histoire de la vie de Hiouen-tsang 
et de ses voyages dans Vlnde, Paris, 1853), and our summary, Sur les traces du 

15 Cf. E. O. Reischauer, Notes on the Tang Dynasty Sea Routes, Harvard 
Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1940, p. 253. G. Coedes, Us Etats hindouisis d'lndo- 
cfome et tflndonisie, Paris, 1948, pp. 136-148. 

49. Horsemen^ ink and color on paper, from Tun-huang. T'ang Dynasty. 
Masie Guimet, Paris. 

50. Kuan-yin, gilt-bronze. Sung Dynasty. Museum of Eastern Art, 
Oxford, Sir Herbert Ingram Collection. 


voyages of all of them have been related by the most illustrious 
among them after Hsiian-tsang, the monk I-ching. 

I-ching (634-713) embarked in 671 at Yang-chou, on the 
estuary of the Yangtze. He spent eight months in the Buddhist 
convents of Sumatra (in Srividjaya, present-day Palembang) 
where he perfected himself in Sanskrit, visited India from 673 
to 685, came back to China by sea route in 689, but set out 
again almost immediately for Sumatra whence he returned for 
good in 695. From this time forward, established in a convent 
of Lo-yang, he enjoyed the protection first of the dowager empress 
Wu Tse-t'ien, then (705) of the emperor Chung-tsung. The 
account that he has left us of the pilgrimages of his predecessors 
as well as his own is invaluable for the history of Chinese Bud- 
dhism, as also for the history of Sino-Indian relations. 16 Like 
Hsiian-tsang, I-ching ran a regular official translation bureau, 
responsible for conveying from Sanskrit into Chinese the main 
texts of Buddhist philosophy and 'theology'. Empress Wu Tse- 
t'ien and emperor Chung-tsung took a personal interest in this 
work and prefaced certain translated texts. 17 

* * * 

The favour enjoyed by Buddhism in the T'ang court had a 
great influence on the history of art. 

* Chavannes translation: Mimoire sur les Religieux kminents qui allkrent 
chercher la lot dans les pays # Occident, 1894. 

1T We may note that the favour enjoyed by Buddhism under the government 
of the terrible Wu Tse-t'ien (who imagined herself to. be nothing less than the 
incarnation of the Bodhisattva Maitreya!), then under the deplorable reign of 
Chung-tsung, came close to producing an anti-Buddhist reaction upon the acces- 
sion of the emperor Hsuan-tsung (712). The new sovereign, who was violently 
hostile to the faction that he had just overthrown, thought for a moment of 
outlawing Buddhism. But he soon overcame his prejudices, and in 724 bestowed 
his full favour upon the Ch'an patriarch. Emperor Hsuan-tsung himself inclined 
rather to Taoism (for which reason the Ch'an spirit was not of a nature to 
displease him). 


Under the reign of the emperor Kao-tsung (650-683), then 
under the government of his widow, the formidable but pious 
Wu Tse-t'ien (683-705), the workshops for Buddhist sculpture 
worked full tilt: for the years around 660 we have a great 
number of dated statues. The sculptures of the Hsiang-chi-ssu 
pagoda near Ch'ang-an must be of 681, those of Pao-ch'ing-ssu 
and of An-ch'ing-ssu, likewise in the Ch'ang-an group and now 
in the Hayasaki collection, are close to this date (one statue of 
An-ch'ing-ssu belongs to 703). 

The sculpture of the Tang is particularly well represented 
at Lung-men; to the T'ang period belong: to the east, caves 1, 
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16 and 19; northwest, the cave of 
Ching-shan-ssu (which has been dated 650-660), the cave of 
Che-yun-tung or Lion Cave (with inscription of 680-681), and 
the two Wan-fo-tung and Kuei-shih-tung caves; southwest the 
Great Cave (Ta-tung) and that of Feng-hsien-ssu. It was near 
Feng-hsien-ssu that the Vairocana Buddha of colossal dimensions 
was sculpted (15 meters tall, including the base and the halo), 
with an inscription of 672 that testifies to the piety of Empress 
Wu Tse-t'ien, the whole being completed in 676. The sculptures 
of Feng-hsien-ssu itself were begun in 679, likewise by imperial 
order. Finally, as was stated above, the Pin-yang-tung cave (also 
at Lung-men), where numerous sculptures date back to the late 
Wei (about 535-536), received new embellishments under the 
T'ang (inscriptions extending from 617 to 668, one of which, 
of 641, was pointed out by Chavannes). 

In the Tien-lung-shan group (central Shansi) the following, 
despite the absence of dated inscriptions, are attributed to the 
T'ang period: to the east caves 4, 5, 6, 7, to the west caves 11, 
12, 13, 14 and 15, 17, 18, 19, 20 and 21, the whole group being 
dated by Seiichi Mizuno between 684 and 755. 18 

tt Mizuno, Chinese Stone Sculpture, p. 25. Cf. van Wessem, Een Bodhisattva 
uit T*ien lung shan, Maandblad voor beeldende Kunslen, xi, 3, Amsterdam, 1934. 


Reversing the chronological order, we shall begin with the 
T'ien-lung-shan sandstones, as showing a direct Indian influence. 
Siren was able to photograph one of the Bodhisattvas seated 
on a lotus, which has since been reproduced in all the antho- 
logies. 19 The pose is one of remarkable freedom, the legs are 
separated and the torso turns slightly on the hips. The princely 
costume is that of the Bodhisattvas of India, with necklace and 
light scarf over the shoulders'. In cave 14, before the acts of 
vandalism that have disfigured the site, he was even able to 
study on the spot two standing Bodhisattvas, remarkable for 
the sensitivity of their modelling, for their graceful poses — one 
of them conforming strictly to the Indian ttibhanga — , for the 
loving treatment, here too, of the naked torso amid the floating 
scarves, as well as for the wave-like folds of the dhoti clinging 
to the legs. 20 The decapitated original of the second of these 
statues is to be found at the present time in a European col- 
lection. 21 The seated Bodhisattvas of this same cave 14 have 
the same charm, like the one that Siren saw still in place, seated 
in lalitasana, the right leg down, the other bent on the seat; 
'the figure turns slightly in the hips and leans over towards the 
left side, a movement which brings out the beauty and suppleness 
of the body'. Here also 'the upper part of it is bare, except for 
the necklace and the thin scarf which falls in two long curves 
from the right shoulder. The dhoti, which is treated in draperie 
mouillee style, fits closely over the legs and is draped in wavy 
folds over the throne seat'. 22 Cave 17 likewise contains several 
Bodhisattvas seated in lalitasana, figures having full forms and 
free poses, directly inspired by the Indian nude. 28 We may recall 
how foreign the nude is to Chinese art. Thanks to Buddhism, 

* Siren, Op. cit., pi. 488. 
" Ibid, pi. 494 and 496. 

* Idem, La sculpture chinoise a l'exposition de I'Oraqgerie, Revue des Arts 
Asiatiques, xi, 1, 1937, pi. 2-B. 

a Idem, Chinese Sculpture, pi. 495. 
' Ibid, pi. 498 aod 501, 



Indian aesthetics, for a brief period, wholly renewed Chinese 

Through an unexpected conjuncture this direct importation 
of the Gupta nude and wet draping resulted in the creation of 
the equivalent, in a few statues of this group, of Hellenic nudes 
and draped figures. Such a one is the Lartigue Buddha, whose 
monastic mantle leaves the chest exposed — a chest worthy of 
an 'antique', its draping rendered with a sense of rhythm that 
is wholly Alexandrian. 24 The same classical purity is to be found, 
with the additional superiority of white marble, in the seated 
Buddha, legs crossed, clad in a soft wet drape* mantle clinging 
to the expertly modelled body. This statue which was found in 
Ch'ang-an is today in the Boston Museum. 25 Such statues appeal 
to our love of plastic beauty, according to the Greek canon. 
But it must be recognized that the 'Buddhist invasion* here has 
led us a long way from the true Chinese aesthetic. 

No less than the Tien-lung-shan pieces, however, various 
Buddhist statues from other regions betray an Indo-Gupta in- 
fluence. Suffice it to mention the three standing Bodhisattvas 
leaning to one side — the one, in white marble, in the Boston 
Museum, 20 the second, likewise in white marble, in the Rocke- 
feller collection, found in Ling-yen-ssu, near Pao-ting, in Hopei, 27 
the third in grey limestone from Shensi, in the Freer Gallery 
in Washington. 28 Similar statues, from the former Grosjean or 
Yamanaka collections, in grey limestone, very likely have Lung- 
men as their point of origin. 29 Sinization is more evident in 
two other standing Bodhisattvas, on which the decoration of 
strings of jewellery is becoming more and more elaborate, grey 


Ibid, pi. 504-A. 
Ibid, pi. 407. 
28 Ibid, pi. 375. 

27 Ibid, pi. 359. See G. Migeon, Une sculpture chinoise classique, Revue de 
VArt ancien et mod erne, February 1929, p. 57. 
38 Siren, Op. cit., pi. 377. 
* Ibid, pi. 463, 464. 


limestones from Shensi, today in the Philadelphia Museum. 30 
But in these various pieces, even in the last, the elongated ele- 
gance of the bodies, their softly rounded forms, the slimness oi 
their torsos, either naked or readily decipherable beneath the 
diagonal scarf of gossamer lightness, beneath the necklaces or, 
in certain cases, beneath the long chain of pearls crossed X-wise 
at the waist, the transparency of the soft dhoti with its wet folds 
caressing the legs, the frequent bending of the upper body to 
one side with a harmonious jutting of the hip — all are features 
which, despite the Sinization of the faces, reveal to us a love 
of living forms, a sense of plastic proportions, that are properly 
Gupta. Or rather, these elegant, highly adorned Bodhisattvas 
recall to us the passage, in India, from the Gupta art of Mathura 
and of Sarnath to Pala art, as we have studied it in the previous 
volume of this series * Aside from this the return to naturalism, 
discreet though it still remains, and though it expresses itself 
here only through subtle devices, 4 is none the less evident. 

The semi-nude in the Indian manner manifests itself also in 
the Bodhisattvas of the Pao-ch'ing-ssu bas-reliefs of Ch'ang-an, 
now in the Freer Gallery and the Boston Museum. 31 We shall 
find the same half -revealed character of the Indian nudes, veiled 
by the caress of the light scarves and the dhotis, on more than 
one Tun-huang painting. 32 Even if (in these as well as in the 
Pao-ch'ing-ssu bas-reliefs) the general structure of the bodies 
already has lost a good deal of the Indian tropical flexibility, 
India still remains discreetly present. 

It must be made clear, however, that the Tang caves of 
Tien-lung-shan and the statues of similar style are somewhat 

80 Ibid, pi. 378. 

* L'lnde (Ars et Historia Collection) (Translator's note). 

* Siren, Op. cit. 9 pi. 391-392. 

* Compare, at the Guimet Museum, the Samantabhadra (P'u-hsien), still 
wholly Indian, a Tun-huang painting in the Pelliot collection. See Hackin, Asie 
Centrale et Tibet, Mission Pelliot et Bacot, Bulletin Arcbiologique du Musie 
Guimet, fasc. 2, 1921, p. 19. 


exceptional. Tang art as a whole springs from a quite different 
impulse. While, as compared to the Sui style, it shows a greater 
ease, while the stiffness of the Sui has given way to a more 
realistic modelling, it is a realism devoid of softness. The mod- 
elling of bodies unquestionably shows great progress over pre- 
vious periods. The true rendering of the human body is no 
longer a matter of unavowed embarrassment to the religious 
sculptor. The stiffness of the Sui necks is replaced on the Tang 
Bodhisattvas by natural, plump throats, further emphasized by 
the drawing of three small parallel folds. On the powerful torsos 
the fabrics are light, the folds simple; they fall naturally. But 
the attitudes, even of the most compassionate Bodhisattvas, exude 
strength first and foremost. The dominant impression remains 
one of dignity, assurance and plenitude. The half -smile of some 
of the preceding schools has given way to a calm expf ession of 
satisfied mastery. 

The period of Chinese imperialism in Asia gave birth to a 
sculpture of 'imperial' spirit. 

* * * 

A considerable influence in this direction was exerted by the 
specifically Chinese Buddhist sect of the T'ien-t'ai of which we 
have already spoken. The Tien-t'ai doctrine, as we have seen, 
by a Hegelian process of identity of contraries, reduced all 
things— nirvana as well as the phenomenal world, Buddhas as 
well as inferior creatures — to a kind of universal essence and 
absolute Reality (the bhutatathata) that constitues the dharma- 
kaya or 'spiritual body' of the Buddhas. The same conceptions 
gave birth to the Tantric' or esoteric sect of Chen-yen-tsung. 8 * 

" In Sanskrit, school of the mantra^ in Japanese shingon school. The meaning 
of the three terms is the same: they refer to 'efficacious words* — that is to say, 
esoteric formulae having mysterious powers. 


The esotericism in question was particularly stimulated by the 
preaching of three Indian missionaries: Subhakara-simha, who 
reached Ch'ang-an in 716; Vajrabodhi, who established himself 
in Lo-yang in 720; and the latter's disciple, Amoghavajra, who 
arrived at the same time that he did. 34 All three developed the 
belief in a supreme or primordial Buddha, the adhi-Buddha 
Vairocana (in Chinese: P'i-Iu-che-na), a name that evokes a sun 
of illumination. Now Vairocana (and this is where the Tien-tai 
doctrine and the Chen-yen doctrine join) is nothing other than 
the anthropomorphic manifestation of the dharmakaya and the 
bhuta-tathata that we have just spoken of, in other words he 
is the manifestation of the 'spiritual body' of all the Buddhas, 
the manifestation of Absolute Nature or Universal Essence. 

'Maha Vairocana, the Great Illuminator', according to the 
Japanese philosopher Anesaki, *is regarded by his disciples as 
both the all-comprehensive soul and the all-creative life-force 
of the universe. All beings, divinities, angels, men, animals, are 
the manifestations of his power. The body and the life of the 
Great Illuminator can be discerned even in a grain of sand or 
in a drop of water. Every sound represents his voice. Human 
speech is but a translation of his cosmic language'. In his 
eternally serene soul the universe and universal life are contain- 
ed in the form of a world of Platonic Ideas, the Plane of 

** Vajrabodhi (in Chinese Chin-kang-chih) (670-741) and Amoghavajra (in 
Chinese Pu-k'ung) (705-744), when they established themselves in Lo-yang (720), 
enjoyed the protection of Emperor Hsiian-tsung. The latter was already greatly 
drawn to Taoist mystical theology and could hardly fail to be attracted also by 
Vairocanian esotericism. See R. Tajima, Etudes sur le Maha^Vairocana-sutra^ Paris, 
1936, p. 23; and Chou Yi-Liang, Tantrism in China, Harvard Journal of Asiatic 
Studies, 1944, pp. 251 and 275. We may recall that the Kozanji, in Kyoto, has 
a portrait of Amoghavajra, a painting in colour on silk, which was attributed to 
the Chinese painter Li Chen (about 800). See Serge Elisseeff, Le portrait en 
ExtrSme-Orient, Etudes d'Orrentalisme publiis par le Musie Guimet a la memobre 
de Raymonde Linos sier, 1932, Vol. I, p. 180. 



Ideals which is also the Realm of the Indestructibles, in Sanskrit 
vajradhatu, 'the Diamond element'. 35 

In this esoteric monism, Vairocana thus plays the role of a 
pantheist god, the soul of souls and of worlds. And it is indeed 
an impression of this order, an impression of metaphysical 
grandeur, that is communicated by the giant statue representing 
the Great Illuminator on the terrace of Feng-hsien-ssu, at Lung- 
men (672-676). A superhuman, impassive figure, expressing 
extraordinary dogmatic authority, absolute theological certitude, 
transcending time and space, dominating the worlds and looking 
ahead into the distance, beyond the pettiness of humanity, the 
Vairocana of Lung-men affords a marked contrast to the figures 
of compassion, such as the primitive Buddhist church might 
have imagined, which in fact were soon to be portrayed in the 
art inspired by Sino- Japanese Amidism. It was a combination of 
the material strength of the Tang and of the 'diamond' theology 
of the Tien-t'ai or of the Chen-yen which led to this cosmic 
vision. 36 

But here in this same group we come upon some very large 
figures in relief of Heavenly Kings (lokapala, in Chinese: t'ien- 
wang), which are more directly inspired by the Tang spirit. 
The Vairocana had an icy serenity. One of the Heavenly Kings, 
a Vaisravana (in Chinese: To-wen\ is nothing more than a 
stoutly-armoured Tang warrior, typical of all the guardian-spirits 
of this kind, who are soldiers appointed to guard the cosmic 
Tour Directions'. The other guardian-king is an athletic figure, 
astonishingly muscled, with his head three-quarters turned, and 
his expression threatening to the point of grimace, neck bulging 
with muscle, body hunched in the posture of combat, and right 
fist closed and significantly resting on his hip, while his left hand 

* Masahani Anesaki, Quelques pages sur Vhtstotre religieuse du Jap on, 
Mus*e Guimet, 1921, p. 44. See also R. Tajima, Etudes sur le Maha-Vairocana- 
sutra, pp. 49 flf. 

* Siren, Op. dt. 9 pi. 453-454. 

""■hj. \" < , "■•■ 


»'' • v- V - 

^il^.'i'^liildto^^y*. „&.. 

51, Loku, jU pttq. Liflo-Cfa DpA (J0M234). MiA 
Mm, Lo/ik 

52. Head of a Lohan, potychromed dry lacquer. Liao-Chin Dynasties 
(907-1234). Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 

the t'ang period 193 

is raised in an abhaya-mudra that one would not be well-advised 
to oppose. A good genie, to be sure, but a good genie whom the 
demons would hesitate to attack; a saint, admittedly, but a saint 
having all the attributes of a gladiator. 37 

In this same vein should be noted the two wooden statues, 
98 centimeters tall, painted brown, green, blue and white, re- 
presenting dvarapalas (genii guarding the gates of a temple), 
brought back from Tun-huang to the Guimet Museum by the 
Pelliot Mission. 38 In these, crude realism and the warlike note 
triumph unrestrainedly. Buddhist art here expresses nothing more 
than the military propensities of the Tang. Over-large, ruddy- 
faced, almost caricatural heads with enormous jaws markedly 
protruding, athletic build, violent gesticulation, threatening at- 
titude, heavy military trappings with complete armour, leather 
corselet, breast-plate, back-plate — the picture is complete. We 
should not forget, in this connection, that we are now in Tun- 
huang, in an advance post at the extremity of a frontier march, 
on the edge of a hostile universe, facing the immensity of the 
deserts and the steppes. 

Chinese Buddhism here places itself under the protection of 
Tang imperialism. It is but an aspect of the Chinese epos in 
Central Asia. 89 

* * * 

To Tang Buddhism we owe a number of the most ancient 
monuments to have been preserved in China: in Ch'ang-an 
(Sianfu), the Ta-yen-t'a or 'Great Pagoda of the Wild Geese', 

* Ibid, pi. 456, 457. 

* Ibid, pi. 550-552. Hackin, Asie Centrale et Tibet, Bulletin atcheologique 
du Musie Guimet, fasc. 2, 1921, p. 11, pi. I. 

* la addition, for the influence of Tantrism on Chinese Buddhism with its 
effect on art (especially the terrifying and demoniacal aspect), see Chou Yi-Liang, 
Tantrism in China, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1944, pp. 241-332. 


a brick pagoda founded in 652 by the pilgrim Hsiian-tsang, and 
the Hsiao-yen-t fc a, another pagoda of 684; in the vicinity of this 
town, the Hsiang-chi-ssu, a pagoda founded between 681 and 705, 
and the Hsing-chiao-ssu that marks the site of the sepulchre 
of Hsiian-tsang (ninth century). These are, as a rule, square 
towers divided into storeys of decreasing dimensions by overhangs 
of thin bricks — a pattern that gives the impression, particularly 
in the case of the Ta-yen-t'a, of a tall, slender pyramid divided 
into storeys. 40 

At the Court of the Tang. The Great Period 

During the reigns of emperors Tai-tsung the Great (627- 
649) and Kao-tsung (650-683), of empress Wu Tse-t'ien (684- 
705) and of emperor Hsiian-tsung (712-756), the Ch'ang-an court 
was one of the most brilliant in Asia. The period identified with 
these princes marked one of the 'golden ages' of Chinese civil- 
ization. On its frontiers an epic China was able, for one hundred 
and thirty years, to subjugate the Turkish hordes, pacify Central 
Asia, and launch its squadrons beyond the T'ien-shan and the 
Pamirs as far as Tashkent and the confines of Afghanistan and 
Kashmir. At the centre, Ch'ang-an was one of the most culti- 
vated and splendid courts that have ever existed, with a galaxy 
of poets and artists of genius. 

The epic predilections of the first T'ang period (618-756) 
are crystallized in art from the time of the reign of the true 
founder of the dynasty, Tai-tsung the Great (627-649), and we 
find them expressed in the grey limestone bas-reliefs, dated 637, 
representing the emperor's six warhorses. These reliefs ornament- 
ed the vestibule of his mausoleum in Chao-ling, near Li-chHian- 
hsien, in Shensi, and two of them are now in the Philadelphia 
Museum. 41 The steeds represented are superb creatures of wholly 

40 Siren, History of Early Chinese Art, Vol. iv, Architecture, pis. 65, 66, 67. 

41 Idem, Chinese Sculpture, pi. 426-427. See Helen Fernald, The Horses of 
Tang T'ai-tsung and the Stele of Yu, Journal of the American Oriental Society, 

the t'ang period 195 

native breed, squatter than the prancing horses of the terra cottas. 
The treatment is broad, but detail is not overlooked: braided 
manes, knotted tails, harnesses and saddles are rendered with 
precision; we sense that the artist was commissioned by a 
'horseman' and a soldier. One of the steeds, 'Autumn dew', the 
faithful companion who bore his master on the reconquest of 
Honan, is motionless, stiffened with painful effort. He has re- 
ceived, full in the chest, an arrow that his rider is pulling out. 
This rider, a typical soldier in action, is treated in broad, sharp 
lines, with the long kaftan and round cap of the Tang war- 
riors. Another steed, 'Curly', this one shown in a short trot, is 
likewise wounded by an arrow in the chest and also by three in 
the croup. Others are in 'flying gallop'. These are reminiscences 
of Tang feats of arms that are not without grandeur, if we 
consider all that they evoke. These sculptures are in effect 'cita- 
tions' for wounds received on the field of honour bestowed on 
the mounts of the Chinese conqueror (it was precisely in this way 
that Rameses II, after the battle of Kadesh, was impelled to 
'cite', in his famous inscription, the horses that had drawn his 
war-chariot). Who ever said that the Chinese was not epically 
minded? Tai-tsung the Great wished to sleep his last sleep sur- 
rounded by his battle horses, his old companions of a score of 
combats, in which encounters, as we know, he exposed himself 
as fully as the least of his foot-soldiers. 

The same realism is to be found in the animals sculpted in 
the round on the tomb of emperor Kao-tsung (died 683), in 
Ch'ien-chou, near Hsien-yang, in Shensi. We may mention in 
particular the winged horse or unicorn, unearthed by the S6galen 
Mission, a splendid piece of sculpture in its over-all conception 
(the way the animal holds his head is particularly remarkable) 
as well as in the perfection of the details (indentations of the 

Vol. 55, no. 4, p. 428. Miss Femald, among other things, raises the question 
as to whether the two Philadelphia horses belong to the originals commissioned 
by Tai-tsung in 637, or whether they are copies made in 1089, under the Sung. 


forehead, the way the wing is fastened to the joint of the fore- 
limbs, the development of the wings in elegant broad volutes). 42 
In its present mutilation the Chinese Pegasus still remains a work 
of pride and nobility. The same may be said of the guardian- 
lions, of colossal dimensions, on this same tomb, shown seated, 
mouths open in a roar, looking threatening. 43 Alongside these 
lions 'in majesty* of the great funerary sculpture should be men- 
tioned several statuettes in small stone sculpture in which the 
animal is represented in full movement, like the two Tang lions 
in the Guimet Museum, one in grey limestone, 6 inches tall, the 
other in marble, 6£ inches tall, the first rending a sheep, the 
second swinging round and growling with a fierce look, both 
admirably observed and brought to life. 44 

In taking leave of the great Tang sculpture we should not 
neglect to anticipate the relations of Chinese art with the Indo- 
Iranian Buddhist art of the Tarim basin, to which we shall 
revert. We shall merely mention here two grey limestone bas- 
reliefs from Shensi, 19£ inches and 28£ indies tall respec- 
tively, one of them now in the Guimet Museum, the other in 
the Boston Museum. 45 The Guimet relief, in particular, should 
be noted, with its prince or war-lord on horseback in the middle 
register, the musicians who, below, follow him in procession, 
and, in the side registers, the figures in the reception and banquet 
scenes featuring lords and ladies whose dress (the double ttirned- 
over collar for instance) recalls immediately the princes and 
princesses of the mural paintings of Kysil or Kumtura, near 

* Siren, Op. «/., pi. 430-B. Segalen, De Voisins, Lartigue, Journal As i at i que, 
May-June 1915, p. 485 and fig. 12. Idem, Mission arcbiologique, Atlas, I, 
plates ix and x. We may recall that 'the unicorn is an auspicious, omen for kings. 
It appears only in a time of good government, when power is in the hands of 
a sage'. 

48 Segalen Album, pi. vm. Siren, pi. 431-A. 

** Siren, pi. 435, B and D. 

** Ibid, pis. 448 and 449. On the Guimet stele (formerly at the Louvre), 
a stele 19i inches by 35 inches, see Migeon, Art chinois au Musie du Louvre, 
no. 31, plate 19, and Georges Salles, Arts de la Chine ancienne, no. 29, p. 28. 

the t'ang period 197 

Kucha, in the Tarim basin, of which we shall speak further on. 
What interests us here, as with the six war horses of the tomb 
of Emperor Tai-tsung already mentioned, is the influence of 
the 'Tang epos' on contemporaneous Chinese art. 

* * * 

While in the remotest reaches of the Gobi and in the distant 
Pamir the Chinese squadrons held the Barbarians at bay, the 
court of Ch'ang-an became the meeting-place of artists and poets. 

A great revival now takes place in Chinese literature. Under 
the Han and at the beginning of the Six Dynasties poetry had 
not obeyed very fixed laws. Versification was virtually free. 
Toward the end of the Six Dynasties, however (from about 500), 
poetry, both in its phonetic and prosodic aspects, in its patterns 
of tone and of rhyme, began to obey strict rules. This is what 
is known as 'the new style* {hsin-t'i), which was increasingly 
adopted under the Tang. Inversely, in prose writing, the Tang 
writers abandoned the technique of 'balancing* and the stilted 
style of the Six Dynasties, returning to the ku-wen or 'antique 
style', that is to say to the direct and discursive manner of the 
Han prose writers. 

For the first part of the Tang period, in the seventh century, 
the anthologies record the names of the 'four eminent poets', 
Wang P'o (647-675), Yang Chiung (died 692), Lu Chao-lin 
(died before 700) and Lo Pin-wang. The last is equally famous 
for the courageous manifesto that he drafted against the tyranny 
of empress Wu Tse-t'ien, as a result of which he was dragged 
into the catastrophe of the rebels (about 684-686). 40 For this 
period mention must also be made of Ch'en Tzu-ang (between 
661 and about 702) whose poetry returns to the direct and vig- 
orous 'antique style' of the Han period. 

* See G. Margoulies, Le Kou-wen, p. 144. 


The reign of Emperor Hsiian-tsung (712-756) witnessed the 
apogee of Chinese poetry. Hsiian-tsung was himself a poet of 
talent and has left us subtle, sensitive verses. His favourite, the 
beautiful Yang Kuei-fei, who like him patronized writers and 
artists, had her praises sung by the greatest lyric writers of 
the time. 

The most famous poet of this group was Li Tai-po — or Li 
Po— (701-762). 47 Presented to the Court in 742 by a Taoist 
religious, he immediately won the favour of Hsiian-tsung 'in 
spite of, or perhaps because of, his unconventional manners'. The 
sovereign invited the poet to sit beside him on the couch of the 
'Seven Precious Objects', offered him a cup with his own hand 
and admitted him to membership in 'the Forest of Brushes', that 
is to say in the imperial academy. Hsiian-tsung forgave Li Tai-po 
everything, even his love of wine. One day when the poet, already 
slightly drunk, met the emperor, the latter asked him to impro- 
vise a song on the beautiful Yang Kuei-fei. This was the poem, 
of the 'flying swallow', which Hsiian-tsung at once accompanied 
on a jade flute (744). But in the same year Li Tai-po incurred 
the displeasure of the favourite and was obliged to leave the 
court. He took refuge in Shantung, among some Taoist monks 
(the influence of Taoism is appreciable in his inspiration) and 
then travelled from province to province. Joining the following 

4T See Sung-nien Hsu, Essai sur Li Po (preface by Maurice Courant), Peking, 
1934. The entire works of Li Tai-po and of Tu Fu have been translated into 
French by Sung-nien Hsu, but unfortunately this translation (which we have 
seen) is unpublished. A part, at least, is to be published in Paris. Among the 
partial translations of Tang poets may be mentioned Sung-nien Hsu, Cinquante 
poemes chinois, Annates de Vlnstitut Franco-Ckinois de Lyon, 1929; Tsen Tsong- 
ming, Rive <Pune nuit tfbiver, cent quatrains des Tang, Paris, 1927; Lo Ta-kang, 
Cent quatrains des Tang, Neuchatel, 1942 and 1947; Idem, Homme d'abord, poite 
ensuite, prisentation de sept pontes chinois (Li Tai-po, Tu Fu, Po Chii-i etc.), 
Neuchatel, 1949; Bruno Belpaire, Quarante poisies de U Tai-po, Paris-Brussels, 

1921. In English translation, Obata Shigeoshi, the Works of Li Po, New York, 

1922. For the whole of Chinese poetry, the admirable translations of the English 
Sinologist and poet Arthur Waley, One Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, 
London, 1918; Idem, Chinese Poems, London, 1946. 

the t'ang period 199 

of a rebel prince, he incurred the misfortune of a further exile 
(756-758). He died in 762 while dictating a last poem. (Accord- 
ing to legend, on the other hand, he was drowned one night 
while sailing in a boat in a state of intoxication, trying to embrace 
the reflection of the moon in the water). 

It is interesting to note that Li Tai-po's family had lived for 
a long time in Tun-huang, a frontier post on the threshold of 
Central Asia. Pelliot has even speculated whether he may not 
have been born in some Chinese garrison, in Suyab, present-day 
Tokmak, west of Issiq Kol. 48 We are in fact told that one day, 
at the court of Hsuan-tsung, Li T'ai-po proved to be the only 
person capable of translating the credentials of a foreign am- 
bassador (in Turkish, Tokhaiian or east Iranian?). It is thus 
possible that foreign blood may have blended in his veins with 
that of the Li family. Certain it is that he was strongly affected 
by foreign influences, and this might explain the affinity of his 
inspiration with that of Western poets and its disconcerting 
quality for the Chinese reader'. 49 If this supposition is correct, 
some of the highly unconventional spirit of the greatest Chinese 
poet may be owing to Chinese expansion in Central Asia and 
the Tar West*. 

Odile Kaltenmark, who like Sung-nien Hsu has made a 
special study of Li fai-po, observes for hfer part that he is the 
Chinese poet best known to Westerners. 'His poems, relatively 
uncluttered by learned allusions, are perhaps more translatable 
than those of most other Chinese poets'. Moreover, f his favourite 
themes— the liberating effect of wine, the swift passage of time, 
friendship— are in no way original; they are those of a great 
number of other poets. But he handles them with wonderful 
vividness, originality and mastery of language. Melancholy or 
joyously carefree by turns, he is able to evoke a landscape, a 
mood, in a few verses, with an extreme sobriety of means. Other 

* Pelliot, Toung Pao, 1922, vol. xxi, p. 236. 

* Sung-nien Hsu, Anthologie de la poisie cbinoise, Paris, 1933, p. 30. 


poems have a narrative or even epic character, quite exceptional 
in Chinese poetry'. 50 

The other great Tang poet is Tu Fu (712-770), the friend 
of Li Tai-po and his rival in fame. 51 Eliminated from the im- 
perial competitions in 735 and again excluded from the court 
by intrigue in 747, he was reduced to poverty until, in 751, a 
topical poem finally brought him to the personal attention of the 
emperor Hsiian-tsung. Barely had he been granted a post, how- 
ever, when the revolt of 755 (in the course of which the favourite 
Yang Kuei-f ei was put to death) obliged the poet to flee. His 
fidelity to the legitimist cause at last won him tokens of gratitude 
from the new emperor, Su-tsung (757). But he had not reached 
the end of his misfortunes. Being a poor courtier, he was soon 
deprived of his post (758) and reduced to living in Szechwan, 
a province whose governor was a friend of his. Old and disil- 
lusioned, he sought once more to see his native province of 
Honan, but died near lake Tung-t'ing before reaching it. 

Tu Fu's poems', Odile Kaltenmark notes, 'do not generally 
have the brilliant spontaneity of Li Tai-po's. They are often 
more erudite, more laborious. But his inspiration is extremely 
varied and we also find in his work many quatrains, composed 
toward the end of his life, which are very simple in form, and 
in which he describes fleeting impressions. A sensitive poet, he 
felt deeply about the distress which he saw around him*. Thus 
after having, like his friend Li Tai-po, described the delights 
of the court of Ch'ang-an at the time of the triumphs of the 
beautiful Yang Kuei-fei, he describes the favourites frightful 
death, the emperor's flight to Szechwan, and the ruin of the 
capital ravaged by civil war. He has shown us, too, the sufferings 

* Odile Kaltenmark-Ghequier, La littirature chinoise, pp. 71-72. On Li Tai- 
po as poet of court life in the time of Emperor Hsuan-tsung and of the favourite 
Yang Kuei-fei, see A. Waley, The Poet Li Po, a.d. 701-762, a paper read before 
the China Society..., London, 1919. 

61 Florence Ayscough, Tu Fu, the Autobiography of a Chinese Poet, London, 
1929-1934, By the same author, Fir-Flower Tablets, Boston, 1921. 

53. Attributed to Li Ch'mg (c. 940-967) : Buddhist Temple Amid 
Clearing Mountain Peaks. Ink and slight color on silk. Nelson 
Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 

iZf t 

54. Tung Yuan: Clear Weather in the Valley, {detail). Ink and light 
color on paper. Late tenth century. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 


caused among the people by the interminable wars that Tang 
China carried on in the frozen plateaux of Upper Asia or on the 
far steppes of the Great West, and, particularly in his opposition 
to the militarism of the Tang, reveals himself as a sharp critic 
of the government and of the society of his time. 'Along with 
poems that have an academic ring', Odile Kaltenmark concludes, 
'there are many that have a realistic and impressionistic turn, 
that conjure up scenes experienced in the course of his wander- 
ings. More human, less detached in his genius than Li T ai-po, 
Tu Fu exerted a greater influence on later poetry, and particularly 
on that of the ninth century*. 52 

Wang Wei (699-759), poet as well as painter, also served 
the emperor Hsiian-tsung to whom his heart remained faithful, 
even when, in the revolt of 755, he was coerced into following 
a usurper. Wang Wei was rewarded by the emperor Su-tsung at 
the time of the restoration of 757, but declined the posts that were 
offered him (including the governorship of Su-chou) in order 
to spend his last days in solitude. It has been said of him that 
his poems were landscapes, and his landscapes poems. It seems 
indeed — although practically nothing remains to us of his pictorial 
work (the powerful waterfall of Chishaku-in, in Kyoto, is ob- 
viously only a copy) 58 — that as a landscapist he was particularly 
inspired by the Buddhist idealism of the Mahayana. Yet while he 
was personally a Buddhist, the school of monochrome wash- 
drawing in Indian ink, which he is regarded as having founded, 
was, in the Sung period when it reached its full development, 
to be influenced as much by the mystical monism of the Taoists, 
by their ecstasy before the divinity of the Universe, as by the 
Buddhist melancholy before the universal evanescence of things. 
Wang Wei's poems in fact express this double state of mind. 

Meng Hao-jan (689-740), the childhood friend of Wang Wei, 
has likewise left us 'poems that are true landscapes*. 

■ O. Kaltenmark-Ghequier, Op. dt. 9 pp. 72-73. 

n Tajima and Omura, Masterpieces of Chinese Art, vol. vm, plate 8. 


The poet Po Chii-i (772-846) belongs to a less brilliant 
period. 54 The Chinese epos had come to an end. From 756 to 763 
the imperial capital of Ch'ang-an was several times sacked. The 
dynasty had re-established itself there, but China no longer held 
sway over Upper Asia. Yet the lyrical impetus of the preceding 
period was not broken. Po Chii-i sought to imitate Tu Fu. But 
unlike the latter, he filled various administrative posts and was 
an exemplary official for twenty-five years. A member of the 
Academy of the 'Forest of Brushes' from 807, he became prefect 
of Lo-yang. In 834 he resigned in order to retire, as a Buddhist 
sage, to the hermitage of Mount Hsiang-shan, not far from the 
Lung-men caves. Around him gathered other scholars and poets 
who had withdrawn from the world, who with him formed the 
group of the nine old men of Mount Hsiang-shan'. By his own 
admission (and like most Tang poets) he found his inspiration 
both in the Taoist ecstasy of Chuang-tzu and in Buddhist spir- 
ituality. 55 Like Tu Fu he composed poems on amorous or epic 
themes that are still admired, and was a critic of the society 
of his time. His contemporary, the poet Yuan Chen (779-831), 
also followed the example of Tu Fu, and likewise described 
the sufferings of the people under a decadent administration that 
was leading this brilliant society to its ruin. 

To poetry properly speaking must be added poetic prose, as 
it was practised, for example, by the famous Liu Tsung-yiian 
(773-819), who in describing his walks through the picturesque 
landscapes of Hunan has left us true prose poems. Liu Tsung- 
yiian is another who has, like his follow-poets, left bitter con- 
demnations of the abominable financial policy of the administra- 
tion, which was causing the depopulation of the countryside. 00 

H Arthur Waley, The Life and Times of Po CJbu-I, with translation of 100 
New Poems, London, 1949. 

" See Sung-Nien Hsu, Po Kiu-yi, Revue de VUniversitk de Lyon, 1930, p. 70. 

58 'Histoire de Thomme qui attrapait Ies serpents' (Story of the man who 
caught snakes), in Margoulies, Le Kou-wen cbinois, p. 225. 


Aside from poetry and poetic prose, the Tang period wit- 
nessed the development of a whole literature of tales — heroic 
tales, fantastic tales or love-stories. One of these romances, The 
Bearded Knight, attributed to Tu Kuang-t'ing (ninth century) 
relates the founding of the Tang dynasty by the young Li 
Shih-min, through the devotion of General Li Ching who, more- 
over, had previously run away with a pretty girl, a love story 
thus enhancing the historical romance. Another historical ro- 
mance, written by Ch'en Hung (also ninth century), deals with 
the love of emperor Hsiian-tsung and the beautiful Yang Kuei- 
f ei, and with the tragic death of the favourite, massacred during 
the revolt of 755. Other tales are in the realm of pure fantasy. 
One of these, by Li Ch'ao-wei, describes the tribulations of the 
daughter of the dragon-king of lake Tung-t'ing, obliged to 
herd his sheep (who are really metamorphosed dragons), until 
she is saved by the love of a young scholar. As for Shen Chi- 
chi's Dream of the Pillow (about 780), it is the story of a magic 
bolster whereby a Taoist Immortal bestows upon a young man 
dreams of the future more beautiful than reality. 

* * * 

Along with this fantastic vein in which the influence of the 
Buddhist or Taoist tales is markedly felt should be mentioned, 
in the field of prose, the neo-Confucianist reaction which found 
its mouthpiece in Han Yii. 

Han Yii (767-824) is considered to be the greatest prose- 
writer of the Tang period. He broke with the 'cadenced prose' 
of the previous period in order to achieve greater precision in 
the expression of ideas. 67 A militant Confucianist, he composed 

w 'The style that Han Yii brought to perfection, if he did not create it, was 
to make possible, under the Sung, the first philosophic works that China produced' 
(Odile Kaltenmark, LittSrature cbinoise, p. 77). Cf. Tschen Yinkoh, Han Yu 
and the Tang Novel, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1936, p. 39- 


impassioned pamphlets, of a vigorous eloquence, against Bud- 
dhism and against Taoism as well. 

Opposing the mystical conception of the Tao and of Te (the 
supreme 'Way' and 'Virtue*), as professed by the Taoists, Han 
Yii comes back to the Confucian interpretation of these ancient 
notions as being synonymous with Jen and /, altruism and equity, 
as taught by Confucius and by Mencius. 58 Going further, he 
denounces monastic life, whether Buddhist or Taoist, as uncivic 
and antisocial, depriving the empire of defenders and society 
of workers, and leading young people to betray their family 
duties by shutting themselves up in 'the idleness of monasteries'. 50 
In 819 Han Yii addressed to Emperor Hsien-tsung an energetic 
protest because the monarch had gone in person to visit a relic 
of the Buddha. It was a veritable manifesto of Chinese nation- 
alism, Confucianist conservatism and the anticlericalism of the 
scholars against the 'foreign religion', above all an indictment, 
in the name of the State, of monastic life: The Buddha was 
nothing but a Barbarian. He knew nothing of the duties of 
prince and subject, of father and son'. 60 The emperor, inciden- 
tally, took this very badly, and Han Yii's boldness nearly cost 
him his life. The censor was exiled. By dint of supplications he 
finally obtained his pardon and was again given an important 
post at court. 

The reaction against Buddhism was in fact increasing. While 
the emperor Hsien-tsung (806-820) had been personally favour- 
able to the great Indian religion, one of his successors, Wu-tsung 
(841-846), who was devoted to the Taoists, signed at their 
instigation in 845 a general edict against Buddhism, ordering the 
closure of most of the convents (one single convent per town 

" Margoultes, Le Kou-wen, p. 177. 

,1 lbid * pp ' 180 " 181 - a - Etienne Balazs, Beitrage zur Wirtschaftsgeschichte 
der Tang-Zeit, Niitteilmgen des Seminars fur Orientaliscbe Sprachen zu Berlin, 
xxxv- xxxvi, 1932-1933, p. 20. 

• Margoulfcs, Op. cit. 9 p. 201. 


being authorized), wholesale laicizing of monastics, men and 
women (260,000 were secularized), seizure of the property of 
the communities by the tax authorities, etc... The clauses of the 
edict were exceptionally severe and quite rigorously applied. What 
is particularly regrettable for us is the iconoclastic character that 
the persecution could hardly fail to assume, orders being given 
to demolish without delay most of the Buddhist temples and to 
send the bronze statues to the foundries to be melted down. 
While it is true that a new emperor, I-tsung (860-873), who 
favoured Buddhism, soon promulgated a new legislation favour- 
able to the monasteries (861), the acts of vandalism caused by the 
edict of 845 were none the less, in all too many cases, irreparable. 

* * * 

From its accession to its fall, the Tang dynasty in its opulent 
capital of Ch'ang-an (Hsi-an-fu) presided over a sumptuous flow- 
ering of Chinese art. We have spoken above, in connection 
with the expansion of Buddhism, and in referring to the imperial 
tombs, of the great stone sculpture of this period. But the 
'luxury arts', as we call them today, as well as painting, were 
no less developed. 

The small Tang bronzes often have a jewel-like perfection. 
The Tang mirrors* usually round, sometimes square, often also 
'polylobed' in the form of petals, show us in the floral or animal 
themes of their decoration the naturalist tendency that is basic 
to Tang art, but a naturalism that is here dominated by a 
supreme concern with ornamental elegance. This ornamentation 
is full of fantasy, a fantasy that at moments casts back to 
before the Han or the Six Dynasties, recalling the mirrors of 
the Warring States — with one difference, however, to which we 
have drawn attention, that in the representation of animal forms 
Tang realism remains ever present The Vertigo of flight' shown 
by all these animals is almost the same as that which, on the 


Warring States mirrors, swept dragons and clouds. But here, 
in the representation of leaping beasts, we find that we are faced 
with the work of true animal-portraitists who miss no detail, 
and even catch the play of the muscles in spite of the speed that 
animates all this fauna. At the same time this naturalism, without 
relinquishing any of its claims, remains faithful to the ornamental 
aim. The motifs, whether animal or floral, are subordinated to 
a broad, uncluttered and powerful decorative sense. 

It is in this mood that the mirrors are designed: with a 
floral geometry, the so-called 'flowers of paradise', elegant bou- 
quets prefiguring all subsequent Chinese taste, flower-laden bran- 
ches and garlands of flowers, scrolls of vines unfurled in delicate 
arabesques and punctuated by rich grape-clusters. In the midst 
of these graceful scrolls, in this setting of flowers and vines 
that rightly reminds us of our Hellenistic art, phoenixes and other 
wonderful birds, bears, foxes and monkeys, disport themselves, 
winged horses prance, while stags, horses, lions, panthers, boars, 
foxes and hares leap freely or pursue one another, all carried 
along at a 'flying gallop', each and every one (even the lions) 
treated with a realism that is both broad and precise. Now and 
again, in the midst of the whirl, we see characteristic Tana 
horsemen emerge, armed with bows or lassos, carried along at 
the same dizzy speed, they too moving at a flying gallop, in 
pursuit of wild beasts. 61 We may note that, at least in the best 
specimens of these pieces (in the Sumitomo collection, in the 
Moriya collection of Kyoto), the dfcor is spaced out, and there 
is nothing of the clutter of forms that overloaded the Taoist 
mirrors of the late Han or of the period of the Six Dynasties. 

41 See, for example, the plates of the great Sumitomo catalogue, Senoku- 
seisko..., part II, Ancient Mirrors, plates 125-128, and the abridgment, with the 
same title, Kyoto, 1934, nos. 67 to 124 (the catalogue of mirrors supplied by 
Umehara). The imperial treasure of the Sh5s6-in, at Nara (completed in 756), 
has several T'ang mirrors that are particularly characteristic (Catalogue of Exhibi- 
tion of the Sb>5sd'bz Treasures in the National Museum of Tokyo, 1949, fig. 53). 


The designs of some of these mirrors are enriched by gold 
or silver inlays that enhance the delicate pattern of interfacings 
and scrolls. 62 Other Tang mirrors (or those of Japan, in Tang 
style) are inlaid with a delicate mosaic of mother-of-pearl, amber, 
malachite, black lacquer or translucid lacquer on a red or green 
background. In addition to this the mother-of-pearl is at times 
carved. All this polychromy is arranged in motifs of flowers, ro- 
settes, bouquets, garlands and pearls. Exceptionally, in the midst 
of this mosaic of flowers, a few animals, pigeons, phoenixes, lions 
or rhinoceros. The whole produces a dazzling decorative effect. 63 
In order to appreciate both the luxurious refinement and the 
'grand manner' of the Tang, one must have had the opportunity 
to admire these polychrome mirrors in the meditative calm of the 
Shos5-in, in the Sumitomo collection or the Moriya collection. 
It matters little that some of them may legitimately be consi- 
dered as being already 'naturalized Japanese', for the court of 
Nara, at this period, aimed to be nothing other than an extension 
of the court of Ch'ang-an. 

Several musical instruments of the Shoso-in, lutes above all, 
show the same delicate inlays of mother-of-pearl and shell, or 
else of stained ivory, hartshorn or bamboo, the same magnificent 
floral ornamentation, flowers and flowerlets arranged in rosettes, 
flowers strung out as a flourish to elegant scrolls, etc. 64 No less 
precious, at the Shdso-in, are the boxes, caskets and luxury furni- 
ture for drawing-room games, chessboards inlaid with ivory or 
hartshorn, with gold and silver flowers and marquetry framing 
featuring birds, camels, hunting scenes. 65 Likewise on the musical 

• Catalogue of the Exhibition of Chinese Art, London, 1935-1936, in parti- 
cular nos. 656 (Metropolitan), 663 (British), etc. 

w Catalogue of the Sb6s5-in (T6ei Shuko), 1926, vol. v, nos. 284 and 287. 
Buhot, Histoire des arts du Japon % 1949, I, plate 32, no. 143. 

•* Catalogue of the Shosd-in, vol. I, nos. 34 and 36, and Buhot, plate 33, 
fig. 144 (A and B). 

* See for example, for the furniture, the Sh6s5-in Catalogue, vol. I, nos. 43- 
46 (and Buhot, plate 34, figs. 147-148). And for the boxes, ibid t vol. in, nos. 145 


instruments of the Shosd-in and on the covers for them, there 
appear, in mother-of-pearl inlay, now a palmtree with a figure 
under it mounted on a camel and playing the lute, now a Chinese 
landscape with river and mountains, plus an elephant bearing 
four musicians, now a hunting scene with galloping horsemen, 
footmen carrying the game, etc. 60 

According to Jean Buhot, the Shoso-in mirrors inlaid with 
nacre and amber, as well as the musical instruments that are 
similarly inlaid, are indeed Chinese. 67 This is the 'adornment of 
life', the 'inimitable life* that Emperor Hsiian-tsung's entourage 
led in Ch'ang-an. And it is in such a setting of luxury and re- 
fined taste that we must visualize the brilliant descriptions that 
Li Tai-po or Tu Fu gives us of the court of Ch'ang-an in the 
time of the beautiful Yang Kuei-fei. We may add that not only 
is this or that minute landscape on a musical instrument at the 
Shoso-in in every respect specifically Chinese (to the point of 
being already, by anticipation, almost Ming!), but also that in 
more than one object Tang art thus transmitted to Japan shows 
itself to be penetrated by influences coming from Central Asia 
and even, through Central Asia (in the Shoso-in fabrics, parti- 
cularly), by motifs originating in Sassanid Iran. 68 We shall come 
upon this same Sassano-Chinese association again in Kysil and 
in Turf an. It was not without its subsequent effects that Chinese 
expansion, under the Tang, had extended beyond the Tien- 
shan and the Pamir, and had reached the fringes of the Iranian 

and 158 (octagonal boxes rimmed with silver, in black lacquered wood, inlaid 
with mother-of-pearl and amber on red-coloured background. 

* Catalogue of the Sh6s6-in, vol. v, no. 36. Buhot, pi. 34, Eg 144. 

m Op. cit., p. 124. 

68 Harada, The Interchange of Eastern and Western Cultures as Evidenced in 
the Sh5s6-in Treasures, Memoirs of the Research Department of the Toyo Bunko, 
n, 1939, pp. 55-78 (with 11 very important plates). 

55. Hsii Tao-ning {active c. 1000): Fishing in a Mountain Stream (de- 
tail). Ink on silk. Nelson Gallery of Art % Kansas City. 


* * * 

If we place them in the setting that we can reconstruct 
from the luxury furnishings and the musical instruments of the 
Shos5-in, and from the verses of Li Tai-po, we are better able 
to appreciate the Tang terra cotta statuettes which, since the 
Chavannes mission, have been coming out of Chinese territory 
by the hundred (at times in too great number and without well 
established proofs of identity). 

The Tang feminine statuettes — musicians, dancers, great 
ladies or attendants — are well known today in Europe and Am- 
erica, especially since, as has been indicated, numerous imitations 
have served to popularize the type. But for the question of 
authenticity there is one sure point of reference, for them, as 
for the Tang horses (no less extensively imitated): the figurines 
discovered by the Aurel Stein mission in the tombs of Astana, 
near Turfan (dating from the first quarter of the eighth century, 
the beginning of the reign of Hsuan-tsung). These, as it happens, 
are pieces whose elegance and freshness of colouring would seem 
to us strangely modern if we did not know that they are un- 
challengeable excavation pieces. Take, for instance, the Astana 
figurine of a young woman standing, with pale green scarf, 
saffron-yellow blouse, reddish-brown robe veering toward mauve 
with brown stripes, a slightly pointed bonnet, her hands hidden 
under the scarf; or else the amusingly polychrome statuette of 
a horsewoman in her green and orange costume, with a smart 
little conical black hat, on her brown horse, dappled on the neck 
and rump. 69 

* Aurel Stein, Innermost Asia, vol. in, fig. 99-A. It is interesting to point 
out that further to the west the Graeco-Buddhist stuccos 'anticipated* the Chinese 
terra cottas. In Kumtura, near Kucha, for instance, we could point to certain 
busts of devatas with bare breasts, painted in bright colors. See Le Coq, Buddbi* 
stiscbe Spatantike, vol. I, plate 25 (and also plates 22, 27, 30) and, in Karashar, 
small stucco heads that are ethnical types very similar to those of Hadda at the 


All the museums of Europe and America (in Paris, the Cer- 
nuschi and Guimet Museums) have familiarized us with this 
little world of pretty Tang women, with their delicate grace, 
their attitudes that are at times so elegant, their slender lines 
(often set off b> T a flaring of the dress towards the hem), their 
long sleeves frequently concealing their hands, their complicated 
head-dresses with large uplifted loops. 70 

Because of the lack of controlled excavations, as well as of 
a methodical study of fashion under the Tang, it is impossible 
for us at the present moment to sketch even a relative chronology 
of these statuettes. Vadime Elisseeff has wondered whether the 
feminine figures with 'olive-shaped' faces and plump bodies, 
which do in fact seem to correspond to the type of beauty 
that the Tang writers indicate as having been that of the fav- 
ourite Yang Kuei-fei, should not be considered as contemporary 
with Emperor Hsiian-tsung (712-756). 71 Such also is the femi- 
nine ideal that we find in the Sh5so-in at Nara on the famous 
screen panels known as 'the Six Beauties under the Trees' (under 
trees in bloom, six pretty women, alternately standing and seated, 
appear, like the statuettes, in ample garments; the garments are 
here enhanced by means of feathers glued to the paper, while 
the flesh is rendered in delicate pink tones). 72 This ideal of 
plumpish beauty is also to be found in the goddess Sri (in Japa- 

Guimet Museum (Aurel Stein, On Ancient Centred- Asian H racks, fig. 127). All 
these influences will be found in the China of the Tang, in Tun-huang. 

TO See the abundant reproductions in Hobson, Catalogue of the Eumorfopoulos 
Collection, Ceramics, vi, London, 1928. 

T1 This is in accordance with the thesis upheld by M. Guillot of the Ecole 
du Louvre, on the dating of the Chinese funerary statuettes. Musics de France, 
October 1949, no. 8. 

n ShdsG-in Catalogue, no. 70. Buhot, Op. ciu, pi. 30, fig. 133. This theme 
of the lady under the tree is also found in Astana in two fragments dated precisely 
705-709, or, also in Turfan (Otani mission), in a fragment of about 715. For the 
'lady of Astana' and her corsage with its wonderfully fresh tints (deep rose), 
see Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, I, pi. 69, and especially the charming 
reproduction in colour of Aurel Stein, Innermost Asia, vol. in, pi. cv. 


nese: Kichijdten), in a famous painting on canvas of the Yaku- 
shiji in Nara, presumed to be of 773, which would make it only 
slightly later than Hsuan-tsung's reign. 

Apart from the feminine figures, the Tang period has left 
us many terra cotta statuettes representing warriors in whom we 
find the same crude realism, the same epic sense as in the 'guard- 
ian kings' (t'ien-wang), lokapalas and dvarapalas of the Bud- 
dhist sanctuaries. In several of the male figures we observe ethnic 
types that are remarkably well observed— Turko-Iranian cara- 
vaneers of the Tarim basin, Turko-Mongolian auxiliaries of the 
Tang armies on the outposts of the Gobi. 

The epic sense and the gift of realistic animal representation 
of the Tang are given free rein in the terra cottas of horses, 
whether alone or with riders. Here again, we can refer only to a 
few rare excavation pieces, like the saddled horse from an Astana 
tomb (brown coat, dappled on the rump and neck, short knotted 
tail, magnificent orange-red saddle with flower pattern, stirrups). 73 
All our museums, all the great collections today have a few spe- 
cimens of Tang horses, at rest or impatiently pawing the ground, 
snorting or caracoling, rearing or launched upon a flying gallop. 
(The Eumorfopoulos collection had a whole stable of them). 74 
In general, the Tang horse (at least in the terra cottas) is more 
robustly muscled than the great steeds of the Han or the Wei, 
yet less heavy than the Ming horses. 

Innumerable indeed are the copies that have flooded the 
market for the past thirty years, and so are the 'improvements' 
that the falsifiers have brought to the reproduction of the origi- 
nals. It is none the less certain that under the Tang, at least from 

73 Ibid, in, pi. 95. Aurel Stein likewise found similar statues of horses in 
Karashar. Compare with the horses of the mural paintings of Bezeklik and Idiqut- 
chahri (Turfan), reproduced by Griinwedel, Bericbt Sber arckaeologiscben Arbeiten 
in Idxqutscbari, p. 95, and by Von Le Coq, Cbotscbo y pi. 31. 

w Eumorfopoulos Collection, Ceramics, Catalogue, vol. i, plates xxvi, xxvn, 
XXVIII, xxx. 


Tai-tsung the Great to the catastrophes of the years 751-755, the 
Chinese had become a 'horseman. The two dynastic histories of 
the Tang tell us of the raids carried out into far Mongolia or 
Tashkend by the squadrons sent out from Ch'ang-an. The love 
with which the Tang claymoulders turned out the statuettes of 
horses reflects an absorbing interest in these events. From another 
point of view, we may assume from the establishment of the 
Chinese protectorate in Turkestan, and from the friendly relations 
with the princes of the Kabul valley, that there was cross-breeding 
between the Persian stallions (a variety of what we call Arab 
horses) and the Chinese native horse. Several of our Tang horses 
seem indeed to suggest that there must have been such cross- 

The equestrian figurines are no less numerous. Particularly 
elegant are the horsewomen, especially the polo players — a sport 
that had been brought from Sassanid Iran, or more precisely 
from Khotan, to Tang China as early as the reign of Tai-tsung 
the Great, and that was one of the favourite games of the cour- 
tesan Yang Kuei-f ei, under Hsiian-tsung. 75 The poems of Li Po or 
his emulators, for that matter, describe for us the horseback 
rides of Yang Kuei-fei and the other pretty women of the Court 
of Hsiian-tsung in the immense parks of Ch'ang-an. 

The empire of Tai-tsung, and of Hsuan-tsung, as we have 
seen, extended over the immensities of Upper Asia, across the 
world of the deserts and the steppes. Whence the interest shown 
by the Tang modelers in the caravan animal, the camel. It is, 
after the horse, one of the most frequently reproduced subjects, 
and it is often rendered with a realism that is almost caricatural. 

w Berthold Laufer, The Early History of Pbio, Polo, magazine for horsemen, 
Vol. vii, no. 5, New York, 1932. Review by Serge Elisseeff in Revue des Arts 
Asiatiques* vm, i, p. 63. 

56. ISase. Sung Dynasty. ISdusee Guitnet^ Paris. 


57. Plate, ting ware. Sung Dynasty. Mttstfe Gnimet, Paris. 

58. Cup, blue-and-white ware. Ming Dynasty. Musie Guimet, Paris. 


* * * 

These ming-ch'i, as the Chinese call them, that is to say, sta- 
tuettes intended to honour and accompany the dead, representing 
human or animal figures, are 'of gray or white earth, often covered 
with a white slip, and polychromed with pigments applied after 
baking'. Others of these statuettes, as well as numerous Tang 
vases, are 'adorned with lead-glazes, often coloured by means of 
metallic oxides'. We may note, in this connection, the green 
(copper), yellow (iron), blue (cobalt), orange red (glazing on 
red earth), cream-white (glazing on white slip) and pale green 
(identical composition, plus a little copper oxide in the glaze), 
all glazes obtained either in monochrome or in mottled effects. 
The dominant associations are those of green and orange-yellow, 
secondarily of brown and blue. 76 These colours, both in the statues 
with polychrome glaze and on cups and vases with the same 
covering, are without nuance, crude almost, being applied evenly 
and separated from one another by engraved lines. By way of 
motifs we often find here the rosettes that we have seen on the 
inlaid mirrors of the Shoso-in. This d&or is often in relief, 
'moulded, stamped or incised', revealing the same love of 
polychrome inlay in pottery as on the above-mentioned mirrors 
or the luxury furniture of the Sh5so-in. 

True white porcelains likewise make their appearance under 
the Tang, which the texts of the period refer to as coming from 
Hsing-chou, in Hopei, and fragments of which have in fact been 
found in Samarra (Irak), the capital of the Abbasaid Khalifate 

M See in particular Hobson, Catalogue of the Eumorfopoulos Collection, 
vol. i, pi. lviii (Tang plate with dominant deep blues and dark reds) and vol. vi, 
pi. xi (Tang plate and bowl with dominant greens and oranges). We may point 
out that the three-coloured Tang pottery featured in the Sh6s6-in shows in general 
the aforementioned colours. In reality the orange and green shades are not altogether 
identical with the Chinese Tang. These are 'Japanese Tang*, already slightly 
differentiated. See English Catalogue of a Special Exhibition of the Shds5-in 
Treasures in the National Museum of Nora, 1947, p. 17 (text by Jiro Harada). 



from 836 to 889, thus providing a precise chronological point 
of reference. 

In the period of the Six Dynasties, as we have seen, the first 
celadons, in porcellaneous stoneware, the so-called Yiieh ware, 
had appeared in Chekiang. From the seventh century, under the 
early Tang, kilns of these celadons were found in 1936 by the 
Japanese scholar Manzo Nakao near Yii-yao, on the shores of 
lake Shang-lin, also in Chekiang. 77 They are covered with a 
bluish grey or grey-green glaze, the ornamentation being usually 
engraved'. We may note that the Samarra excavations have like- 
wise yielded up some of these same Tang celadons, which further 
corroborates the dating. 

The fact that Tang pottery has been found throughout the 
Abbasid khalifate, not only, as we have seen, in Samarra (Irak), 
but also in Rayy (Persia) and in Fostat (Egypt), shows how wi- 
dely the commercial and artistic activity of China extended under 
the Tang. The opposite is no less true, and is likewise attested 
by pottery. A Persian (Sassano-Abbasid) influence and, through 
Iran, a post-Hellenistic influence, are visible in the form of a great 
number of vases: Vases with handles in the form of dragons 
evoking the Hellenistic amphoras, ewers and lobed cups imitating 
Sassanid silverware'. 78 We have, it will be remembered, pointed 
out the same influence (the Iranian influence and the post-Helle- 
nistic influence, transmitted through Iran) on the Tang mirrors 
and more generally on Chinese ornamentation of this period as 
a whole (rosettes, pearled medallions, scrolls, palmettes, vine 

" Cf. Matsudaira, Oriental Ceramics, October, 1936. Plumer, Illustrated 
London News, March 13 and 20, 1937. Madeleine David, Guide du Musie 
Guimet, in, 1950, p. 125. 

rt In the Sh6s6-in (and also at Ueno Museum and in the Nezu collection) 
amphoras of this kind, with T'ang dragon-handles, may be seen, showing an 
Iranian influence. These, however, have glazes with an orange and a green slightly 
different from the similar Chinese shades. As we indicated, although they are of 
the same period, they are Japanese T'ang. 


leaves, grape clusters). Never was China more 'international', 
more 'Pan-Asiatic', than under the Tang. 

* * * 

Tang painting is of great importance to us, because it com- 
bines traditions that are properly Chinese with Indian influences. 
We cannot approach it without recalling, here, too, that the 
conquests of Tai-tsung the Great and of Hsiian-tsung in 
Central Asia had placed under Chinese protectorate the caravan 
oases of the Tarim basin, which by virtue of the phenomenon of 
Buddhism had become, in the realm of art, a kind of Outer 
India — indeed, in certain respects, and at the same time, a kind 
of Outer Iran. 

In several of these sites of Central Asia we again find the 
carving out of cliffs into Buddhist caves (in eastern Turkish: 
?ning-ol 9 'the thousand cells', freely translated by the Chinese as: 
caves of the thousand Buddhas), for which the cliff shrines of 
Bamiyan, in Afghanistan, had furnished the model. An example 
is furnished by the Kysil caves, west of Kucha, adorned with 
famous mural paintings. On these 'frescoes' (as they are impro- 
perly called) we observe, from the fifth to eighth century, a con- 
tinuity of local traditions proving that in this remote corner of 
the Gobi there existed a true 'Kuchean civilization', possessing 
an unexpected refinement, an astonishing richness. The albums 
of the explorer and archaeologist von Le Coq have popularized 
among us the portraits, from the mural paintings of Kysil and 
Kumtura, of the elegant noblemen and lovely ladies of Kucha, 
with their delicately Iranian features. We know these handsome 
'knights' in their war regalia, bristling with iron, or in their 
court costumes that might be taken from a Persian miniature, 
with their jackets with great turned-over collars, their long swords, 
their short daggers; the pretty women with elaborate dresses, also 
showing greater affinity with Iran than with China. As for the 


chronology of these paintings, Hackin distinguishes two styles 
in Kysil: the first style, between 450 and 650, characteri2ed by a 
certain amount of 'modelling', by a discreet colouring (grey, tan, 
reddish brown, deep brown and light green), with a preponde- 
rance of the Gupta-Indian influence and Iranian contribution; 
and a second style (seventh to eighth century), without 'model- 
ling' but with brighter colours (lapis blue, bright green) and a 
concern with details of dress that denote a new wave of Iranian- 
Sassanid influence. 79 We may add that what we have here is 
largely post-Sassanid, resulting from the fact that the last Sassa- 
nids, chased out of Persia by the Arabs, had fled in the direction 
of the Tarim basin whence, in 670-673, they went to seek asylum 
at the court of China. 80 

As we see, the mural paintings as well as the stuccos in 
Kysil involve an Indo-Iranian (Sassano-Gupta) 'complex'. We 
must not forget, besides, (and this is another of Hackin's discov- 
eries) that this complex was already adumbrated in Buddhist 

70 Hackin, in Reau's Histoire Universelle des Arts, 1939, vol. iv, pp. 267- 
268, and Ernest Waldschmidt in Gandbara, Kutscha, Turfan, Leipzig, 1925, p. 75. 
For the distinction between the two Kysil styles, see the coloured plates of the 
albums by von Le Goq, Die buddbistiscbe Spat ant ike in Mittelasien, vols, in and iv, 
die Wandmdereien. Waldschmidt assigns to the first Kysil style the 'peacock 
cave*, the 'navigator's cave', the 'treasure cave' and the 'seahorse cave'; to 
the^ second style 'Maya's cave', the 'musicians' cave", and many portraits of 
mdividual donors. From the ethnic point of view, on the Iranian-tinged char acter 
of this brilliant Kuchean 'chivalry', the reader is referred to von Le Cbq's re- 
productions in his Bilderatlas zur Kunst und Kulturgescbicbte Mittelasiens, parti- 
cularly to figs. 5-7 (the painter of the 'painter's' cave'), &g. 8 ('-cave of the 
Sateen Sword-carriers'X Bg. 20 (the king and queen of Kucha) etc. It should be 
noted that in Kumtura (about 750) we see, in addition to the Iranian influences, 
a Chinese influence that is lacking in Kysil. See von Le Coq, Peintures chinoises 
ttutbentiques de Npoque des Tang provenant du Turkestan cbinois. 

The importance of this long Sassanid 'exile' at the Ch'ang-an court (from 

fr*!^ 70 " 673 * f0r Ae hist017 rf "* has P* 1 *!* not **** sufficiently dwelt on. 
The Tang-sbu tells us that under the reign of Hsuan-tsung (712-756} the last 
Sassanid pretenders offered to the Court of Ch'ang-an 'fire-coloured emhroideries , 
(Chavannes, To+tim Occidental, p. 173). Now this is precisely the eve of the 
'dosing' of the Sh6s6-in Treasury whose Sassanid or Sassanid-type fabrics are so 

59. Kuo Hsi (c. 1020-1090): Clear Autumn Skies over Mountains and 
Valleys {detail). Ink on silk. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 


Afghanistan, as can be seen from the painted stuccos of Fondu- 
kistan (seventh and perhaps eighth centuries). It is even obvious 
that it is the Fondukistan style which, having reached the Tarim 
basin, is again found on the stuccos of Tumshuk (between Kash- 
gar and Kucha), brought back by the Pelliot mission. 81 

These various influences persist in the frescoes of Kumtura, 
southeast of Kysil. Here, however, the Iranian influences, while 
still represented by elegant Tokharian noblemen, are in slight 
regression before the Chinese influences. 82 Let us not forget, in 
this connection, that while the Tarim basin owed its religious and 
literary culture to Buddhist India, as it owed a part of its material 
culture to Sassanid Iran, it was a Chinese protectorate during the 
first part of the period of the Tang: the kingdom of Kucha (on 
which Kumtura depended) was subdued by the emperor T'ai- 
tsung in 647-648, and in 658 Kucha became the seat of the Chi- 
nese governor of Tarim. The same direct Chinese influences, 
alongside of Indo-Iranian influences that are already more atten- 
uated, are observed a little further towards the east, on the Shor- 
chuk mural paintings, today at the Ermitage Museum of Lenin- 
grad (incorporating elegant scrolls recalling Tang jewelry work). 
We may recall that the kingdom of Karashar, on which Shorchuk 
depended, was conquered by emperor Tai-tsung at the same 
period (campaigns of 644 and 648). 

Still further east was situated the kingdom of Turfan, con- 
quered by emperor Tai-tsung in 640, which also became the seat 
of a Chinese governor. Upon Turfan were dependent the rock 
sanctuaries or open-air structures of Bezeklik and Murtuk. Accor- 
ding to Hackin, the mural paintings of Be2eklik include an 

81 The Tumshuk stuccos brought back by Pelliot are today at the Guimet 
Museum, as are also several of the Fondukistan stuccos discovered by Hackin. 
Their comparison is instructive as showing the progression of styles from Af- 
ghanistan into Kashgaria. 

" 'Framed in stylized clouds, apsaras represented in full flight, the curve of 
their long scarves forming a coloured trail : this is a classic motif of the Chinese 
art of the Tang' (Hackin, Loc. cit n p. 268). 


initial Buddhist period, going back to the beginning of the Tang, 
that is to say to a time when the oasis (like those of Karashar 
and of Kucha) was inhabited by an Indo-European (Tokharian*) 
population; and a second period, with Manichaean paintings, 
dating from a period when the Uighur Turks, converted by 763 
to Manichaeism, had made themselves masters of Turfan (hence, 
between 800 and 840). 83 The Bezeklik and Murtuk painting 
reveals these various influences. We see first of all donors who, 
by their costumes and their armour, remind us (though inferior 
in elegance) of the handsome Tokharian* knights of Kysil and 
of Kumtura. But generally speaking, whether we consider the 
type of the Bodhisattvas, the ascetics, or the demoniacal figures, 
or the style of the ornamentation (clouds, flowers and rosettes), 
the dominant influence is that of the art of Tang China. The 
character of the figure of the Buddha himself, which for a long 
time was purely Graeco-Buddhist, has here become Sinicized. The 
great Buddhist compositions, in Bezeklik as in Murtuk, are di- 
rectly linked to those of Tun-huang, of which we shall speak 
further on. 84 A revival of Iranian influence makes itself felt 
during the first Uighur period, with the Manichaean paintings 
and miniatures (early ninth century). 85 A Tantric influence had 
also appeared in Bezeklik (the cupola of temple 3) by the eighth 
century, perhaps linked to the preaching, in China, by the Indian 
monks Vajarabodhi and Amoghavajra to which we have called 
attention above. 86 

* Hackin, Recberches Arcbiologiques en Asie Centrale. 

84 See Griinwedel, Bericbt..., pi. iv. Von Le Coq, Cbotscbo, plates 14a, 53, 54. 

* Von Le Coq, Spatantike..., vol. u, Manichaische Miniaiuren, for example 
plate 7B. 

86 Regarding the terror-inspiring and, to us, almost demoniacal character of 
certain Vajrapani of Idikut-chahri and Beaeklik, see Griinwedel, Altbuddhhtische 
Kultstatten in Cbinesisch-Tttrkestan, p. 238. Central Asia, in turning for inspira- 
tion both to Tantric Hindu models and to the Chinese sense of caricature, had 
created the type of the Vajrapfini (Chinese: Chin-kang-shou; Japanese: Kong6shu) 
and of the very horrific dvarapata and lokapala (Chinese: t'ien-wang\ Japanese: 


This influence could hardly fail to develop in the second 
Buddhist phase (after 840). After the Uighur occupation (from 
800), the Tokharian* types among the donors give way to clearly 
Turkish physiognomies, whether in Buddhist paintings or in 
Manichaean art. 87 Through this evolution the painting of the 
Turfan group shows us, generally speaking, a Sino-Iranian com- 
plex (with increasingly dominant Chinese influence), even as 
Kysil showed us an IndoJranian complex. 

In southern Kashgaria several Buddhist paintings on wood 
panels, from Dandan-oilik near Khotan (eighth century) show a 
curious blend of Tantric inspiration and of Persian art (a Siva- 
ized AvalokiteSvara, with three heads, four arms, a blue-tinged 
body; a Vajrapani with a Sassanid beard, and a no less Iranian 
green cloak, etc). 88 We may note, too, on these Dandan-oilik 
panels of painted wood, a camel mounted by a caravaneer, the 
equivalent of the one from the other side of Tang China which 
we noted at the Shoso-in. 89 

It is in fact through Central Asia that all these diverse influen- 
ces, set into motion by Buddhism, reached the Far East. Among 
the mural paintings of Sangim, certain naksatra figures (feminine 
moon divinities) in their floating scarves present the most felici- 

sbitenno), which were to be perpetuated by later China and by Japan. One can 
therefore point with all the more assurance to the link between the Graeco- 
Buddhist demons (of the Assault of Mara) or damned creatures (preta) (Hadda 
and Tarim) and the Chinese devils, inspired by the whole Taoist demonology. 
With reference to the skeletal damned creatures of Sangim, near Turfan, see von 
Le Coq, Cbotscho, pi. 14. 

91 Idem, Ibid, plates 30-32, and Buddhistische Spatantike..., vol. in, pi. 17. 
We may note parenthetically how closely these Uighur portraits resemble the 
portraits, likewise Turkish (Ghaznevid), among the mural paintings recently 
discovered (1949) by Mr. Daniel Schlumberger in Lashkaribazar, in Afghanistan. 

88 Aurel Stein, Ancient Khotan, Vol. u, plates lx and lxi. 

* Ibid, ii, plate ux. Similar representations of caravaneers (here bearded 
donors, of Turko-Iranian type), followed by their camels and their mules, on 
Bezeklik mural paintings (Griinwedel, Altbuddbistische Kultstatten, p. 274, and 
Bericbt..., figs. 155-156). See Sh6s6-in catalogue, vol. iv, no. 36, and Buhot, Arts 
du Jap on, pi. 34, fig. 144, 


tous blend of Indian suppleness, Hellenic elegance and Chinese 
prettiness.* We shall come upon these attractive daughters of the 
zh—apsaras, naksatra, 'Buddhist fairies' or 'Buddhist angels'— in 
Tun-huang as well as in the Shoso-in. Following Jeannine 
Auboyer's thesis, Toshio Nagahiro's album enables us to retrace 
their flight from the Bamiyan mural paintings to those of Kysil, 
from the reliefs of Yiin-kang to the mural paintings of the 
Horyuji and the Hokaiji temples. 91 

* * * 

We may note further that the Iranian-Chinese complex that 
we have seen coming into being under the influence of Buddhism 
in Central Asia, from Kumtura to Turfan, was likewise favoured 
by two other religions propagated along the caravan trails of the 
Silk Road: Manichaeism and Nestorian Christianity. 

As we know, Manichaeism, a heresy born in Persia in the third 
century of our era by a syncretism of Mazdaic and Christian con- 
ceptions, had in 763 converted the Uighur Turks, then masters 
of Mongolia, and shortly after (from 800) masters of the Turfan 
oasis, who remained Manichaeans until about 840. We owe to 
Manichaeism a part of the Uighur mural paintings of Turfan, as 
well as the fresh Manichaean miniatures brought back by the 
von Le Coq mission from the same region, so that these are all 
works that can logically be dated as belonging to approximately 
the first forty years of the ninth century. By virtue of their origins 
the Manichaeans could hardly fail to bring to the frontiers of 
T'ang China a revival of Iranian influences, which their Turfan 
paintings indeed confirm. Nestorianism, finally, as we have seen, 

80 Griinwedel, Bericbt..., pi. xxiv. 

81 Jeannine Auboyer, Les influences et les reminiscences Strang&res au KondO 
du Hdryuji, Paris, Guimet Museum, 1941, p. 100 and plates 44-45. Toshio Na- 
gahiro, A Study of Hiten or Flying Angels, Kyoto, 1949. 


had been brought to China by Sogdian caravaneers who settled in 
Ch'ang-an (Sian), where they founded a trade colony governed 
by an Irano-Syriac clergy (a church was built in this city in 638, 
and a Syro-Chinese stele 'of Sianfu, inscribed in 781). Nestorian 
art is represented in Turf an (Shocho) by a very pleasant mural 
painting featuring either a baptismal scene or, more probably, the 
celebration of Palm Sunday, a work of broad, refined treatment, 
both Iranian and Romano-Byzantine in inspiration. 92 

But the Irano-Tang complex did not stop here, Soviet archaeo- 
logists have recently discovered on the upper Jenissei, in the 
former Kirghiz country of present-day Tannu-Tuva, saddle orna- 
ments, and in particular gold plaques, of the seventh to ninth 
centuries, with archers on horseback at a flying gallop, pursuing 
lions or tigers, of a purely Sassanid treatment; and alongside of 
these, a silver plaque of Tang inspiration. 95 Kisselev observes 
— and this cannot fail to give satisfaction to the historian of the 
steppes — the connection between these finds and the latest discov- 
eries of the art brought from upper Asia into Hungary by the 
Avars. 94 

* * * 

The culminating point of all these Central-Asiatic influences, 
with what they contained of Indian traditions or, through Indian 
Buddhism, of Graeco-Buddhist and Irano-Buddhist traditions, is 
to be found in Tun-huang. Here, too, we have caves 'of the 

M Von Le Coq, Die Manichaischen Miniaturen, vol. n of his Buddbistiscbe 
Spatantike. And also Idem, Chotscho, pis. I, 3, 5, 6, etc. On Nestorianism in China, 
one of the latest comprehensive studies is that of P. Y. Saeki, The Nestorian 
Documents and Relics in China, Tokyo, 1937. On the fresco discovered in Turfan 
by von Le Coq and apparently representing Palm Sunday in the Nestorian manner, 
see Von Le Coq, Ckotscho, pi. 7, and Saeki, hoc, cit. 9 p. 417. 

w Kisselev, Histoire ancienne de la Sibirie m&ridionale. 

** Cf. Tibor Horvath, Die avarischen Graberfelder von Ullo und Kiskoros, 
Arcbaeologia Ungarica, xix, Budapest, 19? 5, 


Thousand Buddhas' built in the sides of cliffs in accordance 
with the traditions of Bamiyan, Kysil and Bezeklik. 

Tun-huang was the last frontier post of China proper, facing 
the desert immensity of the Tarim basin, the point of arrival 
of caravans coming from the northern trail (via Kucha, Ka- 
rashar) as well as from the southern trail (Khotan) of the Silk 
Road. The caves of the Thousand Buddhas are situated 15 kilo- 
meters from the city itself. The first were dug out in 366 by 
the monk Lo-tsun, under the local Tartar dynasty of the Ch'ien- 
Liang (314-376), in the midst of the Great Invasions. The works 
of art of this period must have been destroyed in the course of 
the persecution of 445 ordered, as we have seen, by the Wei 
king To-pa T'ao. Construction was evidently resumed with the 
pacification of 453. The decor of caves 110 and Ilia undoubtedly 
dates from the last quarter of the fifth century. 95 These were 
immediately followed by caves 103 and 111, the latter very 
closely related to the Shih-fo-ssu of Yiiin-kang, then caves 135 
and 120n that can be dated, on the basis of the prevailing late 
Wei style, about 530-540. 98 According to Sir&i's observation, the 
paintings of cave 120n, as well as of caves 126b and 137b (middle 
of sixth century) reveal equally the influence of the Tokharian 
art of Kysil and of Karashar. 97 The art of the Tang begins with 
cave 11. 

The mural paintings in question are interesting because they 
show the junction between the Wei steles and the art of Kysil. 
They are characterized by vast landscapes of a delightful naivet6, 
with wild animals (antilopes or felines) and horsemen surrounded 
by tiny mountains, or by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that are very 
'Kuchean above whom fly apsaras, diverse genii and birds amid an 
unfurling of floating draperies, likewise very 'Central-Asiatic*. 98 

88 Pelliot, Les grottes du Touen-houang, pis. clxxxdc-cxc and CXCl-cxcii. 
* Ibid, pis. ccxxxx- cclxxxv and ccLvn-ccucvni. 
91 Ibid, pis. ccLXXin-ccLXXiv and ccxcvi. 

98 Cf. Eiichi, Matsumoto, Frescoes in the North Wei Style in the Caves of 
One Thousand Buddhas of Tun-huang, Kokka, 1924, no. 400-402. We may recall 


The influence of Central Asia in China in the following period 
under the Pei-Ch'i (550-577) and the Sui (589-618), is corrobo- 
rated by the presence there of a Khotan painter, Wei-ch'ih Po- 
chih-na, whose son, Wei-ch'ih I-seng, painted at the court of the 
first Tang emperors. The Freer Gallery possesses what may be 
a late copy of I-seng, a Vaisravana, which in fact has rather a 
'Dandan-oilik' look." 

Some idea of the best Buddhist painting of the Tang period 
may be obtained from the mural paintings, or as is commonly 
(though inexactly) said, 'frescoes' of Kondo, in the Horyuji 
temple at Nara, whether they be works going back to the first 
half of the seventh century (?), or to be assigned hypothetically 
with Jean Buhot to about 690 or, more commonly, to the Wado 
period (between 708 and 714). 1<)0 There is discussion also as 
to whether the authors of these mural paintings were Koreans (?) 
who had wholly assimilated Chinese art, or a Chinese foreman 
(and his Japanese pupils?) working after models from Central 
Asia. 101 Nipponese art critics are not even certain of the identities 
of the Buddha and Bodhisattva- figures represented, except in the 
case of the Amitabha of 'fresco' 6 (west wall). As for the other 
central figures, the latest official Japanese catalogues suggest that 
the main figure of 'fresco' 1 (east wall) might be a Sakyamuni, 
those of frescoes 9 and 10 (north wall) a Maitreya and a Bai- 
chajyagura respectively, etc. 102 But other specialists propose dif- 

that Mr. Matsumoto is the author of the most exhaustive study of the subject 
(TonA$-ga no kenkyu, Recberches sur les peintures de Touen-bouang, Tokyo, 1937). 

" Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, I, pi. 20. 

100 Matsumoto favours the Wado" period, early eighth century, in his article, 
Wall paintings of HSryuji, Bulletin of Eastern Art, no. 13-14, 1941, p. 4. 

** Jean Buhot (Arts du Japon, p. 97): The painter, or at least the master 
in charge of the work, must have been Chinese, a Chinese who had travelled a 
great deal and learned religious art, if not in India itself, at least at its gates 
and by contact with Indian artists, perhaps in Central Asia, but perhaps in some 
other region altogether (along the southern routes, the sea route)'. 

** Art Guide of Japan, vol. I, Nara, Mie and Wakayama Prefectures, Institute 
of Art Researches, Tokyo, 1943, p. 222 (with plan). 


ferent identifications, not only for the seated central figures but 
for the standing Bodhisattves who surround each of these. 103 

What is certain — whatever the divinities represented may be 
and whatever may have been the nationality of the artist — is 
that we here have before us the complex that we have seen in 
formation in Central Asia. The Amitabha of 'fresco' 6, with the 
dark red monastic mantle, has a Gandharian draping, such as 
was transmitted by Tarim art. On the other hand the seated 
Buddhas of 'frescoes' 1 and 9 are draped Chinese-fashion — or 
more precisely, as Jeannine Auboyer notes, in the fashion of Tun- 
huang, and beyond Tun-huang, of Turfan art. 104 As for the num- 
erous Indian motifs (for example the thrones or the lotuses on 
which the Buddhas are seated), the' treatment recalls Central Asia 
(Bezeklik by way of Tun-huang). As for the standing Bodhi- 
sattvas who surround the seated Buddhas, certain details of their 
costume (the belt with double hanging loop) are purely Indian 
(not Chinese), but are also found at Tun-huang. Other details of 
ornament on the Bodhisattvas (the long chains worn crosswise) 
were not found in India and come from Bezeklik. As for the flying 
genii of the H5ryuji— here feminine deities plunging from the 
upper air — they are related to the similar figures of the Tang 
paradises, which are in turn derived from Indian models transmit- 
ted through Central Asia. 105 

What constitutes the superiority of the mural paintings of 
the H5ryuji as compared to the models of Central Asia and Tun- 
huang is the art with which these diverse elements are now com- 
bined. The figures' says Siren, c are powerful, the tall Bodhi- 

** J. Auboyer, Les influences..., pp. 3-6; and Buhot, Arts du Upon, I, 
pp. 95-96. 

** We may note too (with respect to Greek influence) analogies with Miran, 
even though Miran is much earlier. See Nobuo KumagL Miran and HSryuji, 
Buddhist Art, iv, 1949. 

** J. Auboyer, Op. cit. 9 pp. 100-103. In Tun-huang wonderful flying genii 
are to be seen on a fresco in cave 77 (seventh century). See Pelliot, Les grottes 
de Touen-bouang y pi. clvi. 

60. Ma Yuan (active c. 1190-1230): Bare Willows and Distant Moun- 
tains. Ink and color on silk. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 


61. Left: Liang K'ai: Li Po. Ink on paper. Thirteenth century. Cultural 
Properties Protection Commission, Tokyo. Right: Liang K*ai: The 
Sixth Patriarch Tearing up the Sutras. Ink on paper. Thirteenth 
century. National Museum, Tokyo. 


sattvas appear still, in spite of their highly decorated skirt-like 
'dhoti', quite manly; and there is an air of stateliness and refine- 
ment about all these divine beings, which carries inspiration... the 
firm, yet highly sensitive drawing is still plainly distinguished'. 
While so many paintings, even in Tun-huang, are but the work 
of pious craftsmen, amalgamating Indian contributions and per- 
manent Chinese elements as best they can, at the Horyuji we 
admire a balanced and harmonious synthesis, which has culmi- 
nated in a great new art 100 

In China itself the Buddhist painting of the Tang is mainly 
represented by the mural and banner paintings of Tun-huang. 
For the mural paintings Pelliot laid out the following main 
chronological points of reference: to the seventh century belong 
caves 77 and 104; to the eighth, caves 146, 70, 140, 31, 34; to 
the end of the eighth, cave 120 G; to the ninth century, cave 52; 
to the second quarter of the tenth century, cave 74. 107 Among 
the banners or fragments of banners of Tun-huang brought back 
by Pelliot to the Guimet Museum, we may note, by way of dates, a 
Kasyapa of 729; the great paradise of Avalokitesvara, dated 981; 
and the judgment of souls (with a view to the determination of 
reincarnations) by K§itigarbha (Ti-Tsang), dated 983. 108 As for 
the dated paintings on silk, brought back by Aurel Stein from 
Tun-huang to the British Museum or to Delhi, they can be situated 
between 864 and 983. As we see, these banners represent works 
distributed throughout the whole T'ang period and into the 
period of the Five Dynasties (907-960) and even beyond the 
accession (960) of the Sung dynasty. 

A number of mural paintings at Tun-huang recall the delight- 
ful simplicity of subject and the unity of composition of those 

** Conclusions by Matsumoto, Wall Paintings of Horyuji Temple, Bulletin 
of Eastern Art, Tokyo, no. 13-14, 1941, p. 6. 

m Pelliot quoted by Auboyer, Op. cit. t p. 12. 

108 Hackin, Guide-catalogue du Mush Guimet, collections bouddhiques, 1923, 
pp. 39-47. 


of the HSryuji temple, for example the group of Amitabha 
surrounded by Bodhisattvas and monks of cave 146 (eighth 
century). 109 But presently, as Sir&i observes, there appears an 
overcrowding of figures and motifs, a juxtaposition of secondary 
scenes, landscapes and architecture, in which artistic considerations 
become secondary to religious teaching and to the need for edi- 
fication. This overcrowding, in fact, had already appeared in 
cave 104 (which is of the seventh century), where a whole pro- 
cession of celestial beings surrounds Amitabha, not to mention 
the paradise placed above and the jataka that line the sides. 110 
In the eighth century (perhaps in the beginning of the eighth), a 
'fresco' of cave 70 accentuates this tendency with a central group, 
isolated by architectural features, sitting in state on a platform 
with balustrades and steps, while above and on the sides are 
numerous episodic scenes. 111 Increasingly therefore (as in the 
theatrical representations of our medieval mysteries') we have the 
impression of buildings seen in vertical cross-section, forming 
'scaifoldings', with 'compartments' and lateral strips which, inci- 
dentally, can be used to present not only landscapes but also 
heavens or hells. 

It is, for chat matter, in Tun-huang that we must seek the 
most authentic Tang landscapes, like the one that covers the 
left partition, on the right side, of cave 70, a vast panorama 
with a foreground composed of buildings, a walled town, then, 
piling up vertically, mountain roads on which horsemen and 
pedestrians travel. 112 On the right-hand partition, on the left 
side of the same cave 70, we see an episode of the 'war of the 
relics' with two rows of Tang warriors in the foreground, brist- 

189 Pelliot, Les grottes de Touen-houang, pis. cccxvm-cccxix. 

"• Ibid, pi. CLXXXVH. 

711 Ibid, plates cxvm to cxxv. Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, I, 
p. 48. On the technically unjustifiable but generally adopted use of the word 
fresco for the Asiatic mural paintings (since the process used in Asia differs from 
the specifically a fresco method), see Auboyer, Les influences..., p. 18. 

112 Pelliot, Op. tit., pi. cxx. 


ling with iron weapons and on the point of grappling; at a 
distance the Indian city of Kus'inagara represented as a fortified 
city in the Chinese manner, and in the background a landscape 
of shrubbery and mountains. 113 As on the preceding partition 
wall, what we have here is a bird's eye view landscape, treated 
in an austere manner but with a good deal of power, and one 
which despite the vertical piling-up of planes and episodes ma- 
nages successfully to convey a Reeling of space'. 114 

Dedicated though they are to Buddhist art, the mural paint- 
ings and banners of Tun-huang are not devoid of the epic quality 
characteristic of the Tang period. In cave 17B (seventh century), 
we see a donor surrounded by a squadron of horsemen caracol- 
ing in several files, standards waving in the wind, and some 
galloping at full speed. 115 The perfect understanding of the ana- 
tomy of the horse, not to mention the movement that sweeps 
the whole cavalcade, gives us an idea of what military painting 
under the Tang may have been like, in the period of die painter 
Han Kan, who about 750 declared to emperor Hsiian-tsung, 'The 
horses of your Majesty's stables are my only masters'. 116 As for the 
warrior types that we have encountered in these mural paintings, 

aM Ibid, pi. CXXiv. 

114 Sir6a, Op. cit., p. 48. We may recall a guitar (biwa) of the Sh5s5-in 
treasure, belonging to the Tang period, with inlay of rosewood, which has as 
background for a hunting scene (horsemen at a gallop fighting a tiger) the peaks 
of mountains piercing a sea of clouds. Within the dimensions of a Tang mi- 
niature we here already have an immense landscape of distances in the manner 
of the Sung (English Catalogue of a Special Exhibition of the Sb8s5-in Treasures..., 
&g. 30). 

335 Pelliot, Op. cit., plates xliv-xlix. We should also remember copies of 
Tun-huang 'frescoes' representing horsemen and hunting scenes of the Wei period 
(fifth century) or of the Tang period (seventh century) and the Five Dynasties 
(tenth century), copies that were featured in September 1947 at the exhibition of 
the Chinese painter Ou Sogene at the Musee Galliera (Catalogue, p. 13, no. 67). 

*• To Han Kan (about 720-780) has been attributed a scroll in the Freer 
Gallery (horses brought in tribute by men from Upper Asia)— in all likelihood 
belonging to a later date — and a small ink painting on paper, representing one 
of Emperor Hsuan-tsung's steeds. This painting is now in the Percival David 


even better examples are to be found in the paintings on silk 
brought from Tun-huang either to the Guimet Museum by the 
Pelliot mission, or to the British Museum or Delhi by the Aurel 
Stein mission. We may mention a fragment on paper at the 
Guimet Museum, representing a high dignitary on horseback, 
followed by a mounted lancer, which again bears witness to the 
probable character of Tang military painting. 117 Likewise, at 
the Guimet and at the British Museum, two paintings on silk, 
both representing Vai&avana (the lokapala or guardian king 
of the North in Indian mythology), featured as a formidable 
Tang warrior, with da2zling armour and adornment done in 
golds, reds, blues and greens. 118 Buddhism, under the influence 
of the Tang conquerors, was swept by an epic inspiration. 

Thanks also to the Tun-huang paintings on silk (Guimet, 
British Museum and Delhi) we have excellent portraits of men 
and women donors in full Tang or Five Dynasties dress. The 
lovely ladies thus represented in court attire, often all rose- 
patterned brocade, with their elaborate piled-up and flower- 
adorned head-dresses, give us a better insight into the ideal of 
feminine beauty and into the changes in fashion from the eighth 
to the tenth century than any amount of dubious terra cottas. 119 

With regard to the Tun-huang paintings dating from the first 
half of the eigth, century onwards, Siren observes that the man- 
ner in which the celestial hierarchies and the episodes are archi- 
tecturally compartmentalized, as in the 'paradises' of Amitabha, 
Avalokitesvara, Bhaisajya and other Buddhist divinities, is evid- 
ence of a tendency towards order and clarity combined with a 

w Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, i, pi. 32. 

338 Odette Monod-Bruhl, Guide-catalogue du Musie Guimet, 1939, p. 127. 
Aurel Stein, On Central Asian Tracks, pi. 100. Also : Stein, Serindia, iv, 72, 73, 
84, and Pelliot, Op. cit., pis. on (cave 61) and clxxiii (cave 83-B). 

** Pelliot, Op. cit., cave 74 (end of tenth century), pis. CXXXin-CXXXV; caves 
117-119, pis. cciv, ccxm, ccsxrv. Also, on the Musee Guimet banners, the men 
and women donors of several paradises of Avalokitesvara or of Ksitigarbha (dated 
943, 981 or 983). 


minuteness of detail which is not without a certain dryness. 
Siren recalls the fact that from 763 the Tibetans occupied Tun- 
huang on several occasions, and that one particular tribe related 
to them, the Hsi-hsia, or Tangut, was to conquer and keep it 
throughout the eleventh and twelfth centuries. 120 The Swedish 
archaeologist wonders, confronted with the manifestation of these 
tendencies in cave 120G (end of eighth century) and in cave 139A 
(beginning of ninth) whether we are not here witnessing the be- 
ginnings of Tibetan (or Nepalo-Tibetan) art, as we shall in fact 
see it develop autonomously some eight centuries later. 121 There 
is indeed something of Pala-Sena art (of Northeast India) — an 
art subsequently more and more stereotyped as it passed through 
Nepal and Tibet — in the wonderful Avalokitelvara with forty 
arms, a painting on silk brought to the British Museum by 
Aurel Stein, which belongs, in fact, to the ninth century. 123 
Through the muted vibration of the golds, pinks, violets, greens 
and faded reds, the Bodhisattva with half -naked body — a frankly 
Bengali or Nepalese nakedness — combines Buddhist suavity with 
the cosmic majesty of a Hindu deva\ above, small Bodhisattvas, 
likewise with a delightful treatment of the nude and similarly 
Pala; below, divinities that could be Sivaites; to the left, an 
elegant Chinese figure; to the right, a Hindu ascetic, as we shall 
see them in the Tibetan banners of the Bacot collection. In sum, 
pure enchantment, but an enchantment that prefigures the Indo- 
Tibetan painting of some eight centuries later. 

Sir&i, after Bachofer, points out the affinities (particularly 
in the costumes of donors) between the Uighur paintings of 
Turf an and certain paintings of caves 52 and 74, in Tun-huang. 123 
Cave 52, as we have seen, does in fact belong to the ninth century; 

330 The Hsi-Hsia kingdom in Kansu (capital Ning-hsia), 1001-1227. 

91 Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, I, p. 50. 

m Aurel Stein, Serindia, vol. iv, pi. 64. Reproduction, also in colour, in 
Springer, Kunstgescbichte, vol. vi, by Curt Glaser, Stella Kramrisch, Kuhnel, etc., 
Die Aussereufopaiscbe Kunst, pi. vn (pp. 360-361). 

388 Pelliot, Op. cit. 9 plates lxxxviii and cxxxiv-cxxxv. 


cave 74, to the second quarter of the tenth; at this period the 
Uighur were temporarily masters o£ Tun-huang as they were of 
Turfan. 124 

Despite the fact that several of these are of great interest, 
one sometimes regrets that the Tun-huang paintings were for 
the most part merely the work of 'honest and pious craftsmen*. 
Other mural paintings, visited by Langdon Warner in the cave 
of Wan-fo-hsia, a three-days' march from Tun-huang, seem to 
be of higher quality. These are likewise Buddhist works, repre- 
senting a mandala of Vairocana, a pien-hsiang of Maitreya, etc. 
Warner emphasizes the splendour of these mural paintings which, 
he tells us, are the work of true artists. 12,5 But it is not certain 
that these are paintings of the ninth century, as he at first thought. 
They may be rather works of the tenth century (period of the 
Five Dynasties) or may even date from the period when the Tun- 
huang March, like all Kansu, was a part of the Tangut or Hsi- 
Hsia kingdom, founded in this region by a tribe having Tibetan 
affinities, half Sinicized (1001-1227) 

* * * 

The Tun-huang mural paintings or paintings on fabric are 
the work of anonymous painters who are, as we must recognize, 
in most cases pious hagiographers rather than real masters. Mas- 
ters nevertheless did exist and Chinese documents have not only 
transmitted their names to us but have also enlightened us as 
to the nature of their talent. 126 On the other hand, we can scarcely 
boast of knowing many authentic works by them. 157 Among the 

*** See also Eiichi Matsumoto, Li Sheng-tien, king of Khotan (938) and the 
Thousand Buddhas Caves at Tun-huang, Kokka, no. 140, 1925. 

335 Langdon Warner, Buddhist Wall-Paintings. A Study of a Ninth-century 
Grotto at Wan Fo Hsia, Harvard, 1938. 

08 L. Bachofer, Chinese Landscape Painting in the VHIth Century, Burlington 
Magazine, Nov. 1935. 

337 The best reproductions of the masterpieces of Chinese painting are to 
be found in: Tdyd Bujutsu Taikwan, or Masterpieces Selected from the Fine Arts 


great Tang painters must be mentioned Yen Li-pen (died in 673) 
who lived at the court o£ emperors Tai-tsung the Great and 
Kao-tsung and after whom the Boston Museum has at least copies 
(portraits of emperors and of scholars, psychologically powerful 
and solidly composed). 128 

The following period produced the painter Li Ssu-hsiin (651- 
716), who belonged to the imperial family of the Tang, and his 
son Li Chao-tao who lived at the court of emperor Hsuan-tsung. 
The Freer Gallery has a landscape that may be the copy of a 
work by Li Ssu-hsiin. It is, in any case, a landscape 'in which' 
according to Siren, 'heaven and earth meet like the white clouds 
and the green mountains, and the sun paints a golden lining 
round every form'. We may observe that this is a landscape of 
pure enchantment recalling (except that here it is a work of 
talent) the visions of space hinted at in the background of the 
Buddhist paradises of the same period. So too the 'summer pal- 
ace' attributed to Li Chao-tao, at the Boston Museum, presents 
with the brush of a real artist the same airy constructions and 
rearing mountain backgrounds that the honest craftsmen of 
Tun-huang had let us glimpse. 129 We may add that, through 
their love of colour, Yen Li-pen, Li Ssu-hsiin and Li Chao-tao 
likewise have affinities with the art of Tun-huang. 

Wu Tao-tau (died about 760), regarded by all his contempo- 
raries as a painter of genius and undoubtedly one of the greatest 
artists of the period of Hsiian-tsung, frequently sought his inspir- 

of the Far East, vols. vm-Xii, Tokyo, 1910. Siren, History of Early Chinese Paint- 
ing. William Cbhn, Chinese Painting, London, 1948. 

128 See, on behalf of the authenticity of the scroll of the Thirteen Emperors, 
K. Tomita's arguments in Siren, loc. cit., i, pp. 57-58. K. Tomita's articles on 
the Chinese paintings of the Boston Museum have appeared in the Bulletin of 
the Museum of Pine Arts, nos. 155 (1928), 174 (1931), 177 (1932). On the 
portraits attributed to Yen Li-pen, see also Serge ElisseeflF, Notes sur le portrait 
en ExtoSme-Orient, in Milanges Unossier, vol, I, pi. 175, Musee Guimet, 1932. 

** See Jeannine Auboyer, L'influence chinoise sur le paysage dans la peinture 
de TOrient et dans la sculpture de l'lnsulinde, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, IX, 4, 
pp. 228 ff. 


ation in Buddhist subjects. The famous Kuan-yin seated in 
lilasana on a rock on the seashore, at the Daitokuji Temple in 
Kyoto, was for a time attributed to him. Three kakemonos at 
the Tofukuji, likewise in Kyoto, have also been attributed to him, 
representing respectively Sakyamuni, Manjus'ri and Samantabha- 
dra, although these paintings are actually Yuan. Such attribu- 
tions, while they may reveal themselves to be ill-founded, nev- 
ertheless give one an idea, it may be, of the painter's subjects 
and manner. 

Wang Wei (699-759) of whom we have spoken as a poet, 
was no less famous as a painter. We have seen that he too was 
inspired by Buddhism. Some Japanese or Chinese collections 
claim to have copies (or at least copies of copies) of his 'Clearing 
after Snowfall on the Hills by the River', and the Chishakuin, 
in Kyoto, presents under his name a cascade reproduced in all 
the anthologies but which, according to the best Japanese art cri- 
tics, is certainly only a copy. Actually, in the absence of authentic 
pictorial works, we can form an idea of Wang Wei's feeling 
for nature as well as of his conception of landscape, on the 
basis of his poems. Did not the great Sung scholar Su Tung-po 
say of him, c In reading his poems, I discover in them a painting; 
in contemplating his paintings, I hear in them a poem' ? The Sung 
artists, in fact, loved the old Tang master because they tended 
to see in him (erroneously, most certainly) the inventor of the 
monochrome landscape (with Indian ink). But such assertions, 
even when proved wrong, none the less indicate the trend of 
Wang Wei, a trend towards broad impressionist landscapes, 
which later (in the Sung period) were to be executed in wash, 
in contrast to the still prevailing polychromy of the Tang period. 
It is this difference that the geographically inadequate terms of 
'School of the North' (polychrome school, placed under the name 
of Wu Tao-tzu) and 'School of the South' (monochrome school, 
under the name of Wang Wei) were intended to indicate. 

62. Kuan-yin, wood with traces of color. Eleventh century. British 
Museum, London. 

63. Kuan-yin, wood. Yuan Dynasty, thirteenth century. Nelson Gallery 
of Art, Kansas City. 

Chapter Five 

Fall of the Tang. The Five Dynasties 

Towards the end of Tang rule, Chinese society was shaken 
by a grave economic crisis. Since the military disasters in Tur- 
kestan and in Yunnan that had marked the year 751, and espe- 
cially since the terrible revolt of An-Lu-shan (755) and the civil 
war that followed (755-762), taxes, statute labour and military 
service had become so oppressive that people thought only of 
ways of evading their obligations. 1 In order to escape the levy by 
taking advantage of the immunity enjoyed by religious found- 
ations, peasants would offer themselves to Buddhist convents as 
Church serfs, while sons of notables became monks. The resulting 
increase in mortmain property was one of the causes of the drastic 
secularization edict of 845 of which we have spoken. 2 In any case, 
the peasants were often reduced to selling up their holdings and 
to hiring themselves out as agricultural labourers to the nearest 
big landowner, on whom they became wholly dependent — if not 
literally as slaves, at least as agricultural labourers at the mercy 

1 The number of taxable families fell from 9,069,154 in 754 to 2,900,000 in 
764. Cf . C P. Fitzgerald, The Consequence of the Rebellion of An Lu-shan upon 
the population of the Tang Dynasty, Pkilobiblion, Sept. 1947. 

* Balazs, Reitrage zur Wirtschaftsgeschichte der fang-Zeit, Mitteilungen 
des Seminars fur orientaliscbe Spracben zu Berlin, xxxv-xxxvi, 1932-1933, p. 20. 


o£ their 'lord', that is to say, virtually as serfs. The disappearance 
of small property, hence of the class of really free peasants, was 
so swift that by the end of the eighth century, according to the 
writer Lu Chih (754-824), the families of landowners represented 
no more than 4 to 5 per cent of the total population. 8 

At the same time the monetary situation had become un- 
healthy. There was a shortage of currency and of copper coins. In 
order to meet the needs of trade, 'flying currency, that is to say 
paper money, had appeared, in the form of 'deposit tokens' which 
facilitated transactions. 4 But trade itself underwent grave pertur- 
bations when on successive occasions the Silk Road was cut by 
bands of Tibetans, while the Arab-Persian warehouses of Canton 
were pillaged by the peasant uprising of 879. The State on 
several occasions had recourse to issues which were considered 
counterfeit, upon which attempts real devaluation followed. 6 

Out of the wretchedness of the ruined peasants sprang terrible 
peasant revolts, such as the one headed by Huang Ch'ao, a dis- 
gruntled intellectual who organized insurgent bands (875) on 
the borders of Shantung, Hopei and Honan, and pillaged the 
great port of Fu Chou (878), then, as we have just said, that of 
Canton (879), and finally even the imperial capitals of Lo-yang 
and Ch'ang-an themselves (880-881). 

The house of the Tang could hardly survive this blow. In 
907 it was deposed by a roving adventurer, and in its place five 
ephemeral dynasties succeeded one another in North China, with 
K'ai-feng as capital (907-959), while the south was divided among 
several provincial ruling houses. 6 Opposing the emperor of K'ai 
feng, there were thus independent kings in Nanking, Hangchow, 

3 Maspero, Etudes Historiques, Musee Guimet, 1950, p. 175. 

4 Balazs, foe. cit., p. 37. 
* Ibid., pp. 30 £F. 

6 On the Turkish tribe of the Sha-t'o that founded one of the 'Five Dynasties' 
in North China— the ephemeral dynasty of the Hou-T'ang (923-936), with K'ai- 
feng as capital— see W. Eberhard, Some Cultural Traits of the Sha-t'o Turks, 
Oriental Art, I, 2, p. 50. 


Canton, Szechwan, etc., for about half a century. Certain of these 
provincial courts (those of Nanking and Hangchow in particular) 
had, as we shall see, a real importance in the realm of art. 

* * * 

In the realm of art, the period of the Five Dynasties (907- 
959), a period of transition between the Tang and the Sung, 
is one that cannot be neglected. 

We may note first of all the sculptures on the tomb of a 
local prince of Szechwan, Wang Chien, who reigned over this 
province from 907 to 918. Situated at Ch'in-t'ai, in the suburbs 
of Chengtu, this tomb contains a statue in the round of Wang 
Chien himself, a realistic portrait with heavy eyebrows, hollow 
eyes and large ears, in which the rugged personality of the adven- 
turer turned sovereign prince comes to life. Also in the round, 
there are statues of warriors, with armour and helmets variously 
decorated. Finally, in high relief, there are women musicians 
and dancers with round faces (in the Tang style), of which the 
details of costume are of particular value, since the monument 
is dated. 7 

The period of the Five Dynasties is no less interesting from 
the point of view of Chinese painting. 

The influence of the mystical Buddhism of the Ch'an sect 
expressed itself at this time, through the painters Kuan Hsiu (832- 
912) and Shih-K'o (tenth century), in powerful portraits of arhats 
or Buddhist saints, represented as old men of strange and almost 
disquieting intellectuality, or in figures of patriarchs with fiery 
eyes in the manner of Bodhidharma (Ta-mo). 8 The painting 

7 Cheng Te-K'un, The Royal Tomb of Wang Chien, Sinologies II, i (With 

* Of. Carol Baumann, A Few Psychological Aspects of Ch'an Buddhism, 
Artibus Asiae, vin, 2-4, p. 216. Also the study by Serge Elisseeff, Le Portrait en 
Extreme-Orient, Milanges Linossier, Musee Guimet, 1932. We may recall that 
the intensity of the eyes in Ch'an painting is related to old animist conceptions. 


of flowers and birds, subjects that were to undergo such develop- 
ment in subsequent art, was established by the Szechwanese Huang 
Ch 'iian, who flourished at the provincial court of Chengtu about 
920-950, and by his emulator Hsu Hsi, a painter at the provincial 
court of Nanking. The court of the kings of Nanking (937- 
975) likewise attracted the painters Wang Ch'i-han and Chou 
Wen-chu, both of whom had a predilection for pleasant scenes 
with pretty women and children. The art that then developed in 
this provincial kingdom, in its tendency toward 'prettiness' and 
perhaps finickiness, foreshadows certain aspects of Ming taste. 
Hu Kuei, on the other hand, in whose manner the Boston Museum 
has two fine Tartar horsemen, recalls the Tang military paintings. 
He was himself a Tartar, of the horde of the Ch'i-tan or Khitai, 
then holding sway over Peking. 

The painting of the Five Dynasties also created the mono- 
chrome landscape, with wash technique (using Indian ink), which 
the Sung period was to develop to its apogee. As we shall see, this 
new manner, in contrast to the love of colour of the Tang period, 
was influenced by the philosophical conceptions of Ch'an 

The masters of landscape (in Chinese: shan-shui, mountains 
and waters') — of landscape thus conceived — are, for the period 
of the Five Dynasties, Ching Hao,,Kuan Tung and Li Ch'eng, 
all three of whom lived in North China (which proves that wash- 
drawing is not necessarily a 'Southern School' as has been claim- 
ed). The paintings attributed to these three artists (Freer Gallery 
and Boston Museum) have, for that matter, a powerful and 

In the Chinese tradition it was by 'opening the eyes: of a portrait that the artist 
'animated' (in the most literal sense of the word) the being represented. The 
classically quoted example is that of the painter Chang Seng-yu (sixth century) 
who, after having painted some dragons, 'opened' their eyes in this way: the 
dragons, immediately coming to life, leaped from the painting and flew skyward, 
not without reducing the whole building to cinders. Moreover, the funerary 
tablets, the 'perpetual tablets' at least, were 'dotted', that is, decorated with dots 
representing the eye and thus conferring life upon them. 


almost rough technique ( 'sculptural' rendering of the mountains) 
which forms a transition, in the evolution of the landscape, be- 
tween the crudeness of the Tang and the flowing grace of the 

Another transition painting, if this is really an original of the 
Five Dynasties, is the silk scroll in the Peking Museum, 'Stag 
and Does beneath the Red Maples of Autumn*, which was one 
of the revelations of the Burlington House Exhibition in 1935. 
The elegance, the nobility, the pride of this herd remind us of 
the genius of the Tang masters of animal representation. The 
shimmer of the autumn colours on the maple leaves ranging 
from green to reddish brown through shades of pink and grey 
is also an echo of the love of colour that characterized the Tang 
painters, but the softening of the tints is a harbinger of more 
sophisticated tastes. The 'melancholy of autumn landscapes' that 
they convey already suggests the great Sung masters. How quiver- 
ingly sensitive is this revelation of the 'secrets of the forest'! 
'A herd of brown deer sheltering in a forest of maples with their 
luxuriant green leaves turning to autumnal red, is startled by the 
approach of man. An antlered stag, full of power and virility, 
stands in an attitude of wariness, taut and quivering as a drawn 
bow, about to give the signal of alarm. The hinds, shy, appealing, 
delicate-footed, regard us with a look of mingled fear and re- 
proach in their startled eyes. Nowhere is the disturber of the 
woodland peace disclosed.,. ' 9 

The Five Dynasties had two centres of ceramic production. 
In the north, in K'ai-f eng, the annalists tell us, emperor Shih-tsung 
(954-959) of the Hou-Chou dynasty ordered from his potters a 
porcelain 'blue as the sky, bright as a mirror, thin as paper and 
having the resonance of a musical stone'. In the South, the cela- 
dons of porcellaneous stoneware, the so-called Yueh ware from 

• Sir Percival David, Chinese Exhibition (1935), Revue des Arts Asiatiques, 
IX, 4, p. 175. Cf. Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, I, pi. 64. Catalogue 
of the Exhibition of Chinese Art, No. 755. 


Chekiang, a specialty that, as we saw, was created in the Tang 
period, now became the pise yao, a pottery reserved for the 
kings of Wu Yiieh of the Ch'ien family, a provincial dynasty 
which governed Chekiang, with Hangchow as its capital, from 
907 to 978. 10 

We may note, to conclude, that the provincial dynasties of 
the South, at the beginning of the tenth century, were also out- 
standing in architecture. We owe to them the charming stone 
pagoda of the Ch'i-hsia-ssu, near Nanking. 11 But in 'imperial* 
China, the China of the North, emperor Shih-tsung of the Hou- 
Chou dynasty promulgated in 955 a severe edict against Buddhist 
monasticism (imposing restrictions on entry into monasteries, and 
ordering the closing of monasteries and even the destruction of 
a great number of pagodas etc.) Fortunately for Buddhism, the 
house of the Hou-Chou was deposed five years later by the great 
dynasty of the Sung. 

The Period of the Sung and the Confucianism Reaction 

In 960 there came to the throne in North China, in K'ai- 
f eng, a great national dynasty, that of the Sung, which in a few 
years restored the unity of China by putting an end to the pro- 
vincial kingdoms that had divided the South. 

Sung rule (960-1276) is divided into two periods: the first, 
from 960 to 1126, in which the Sung reigned over all China 
(except for the Peking region and Kansu), with K'ai-feng as 
their capital; the second, from 1127 to 1276, when the Sung, 
having lost North China to the Tartars, reigned only over South 
China, with Hangchow as their capital. 

Even when its territories still included nearly all China proper, 
the Sung dynasty, renouncing external conquests, did not have 

" On the difference between the pottery of the North and the pottery of the 
South throughout Chinese history, see Koyama, La Ceramique chinoise, style du 
Sud et style du Nord, Bijutsu Kenkyu, 4, clvii, pp. 1-28. 

11 Siren, History of Early Chinese Art, iv, Architecture, pi. 87. 


the interest in the outside world that was characteristic of the 
Tang period. Apart from this, the penetration of Islam into 
Kashgar since around the year 1000 and, from about the same 
date, the conquests of the Moslems in India, and finally the 
progressive disappearance of Buddhism in the latter country, were 
all upheavals that were to cut off the Chinese from the Indian 
world and cause them to fall back on their own civilization. 

It thus came about that the Sung epoch, throughout both per- 
iods, was an age of Confucianist reaction. However, the preach- 
ing of Buddhism had now been continuous for several cen- 
turies, a long enough time for it to have become assimilated, 
to become Chinese. Thus the codification of Chinese thought 
which triumphant Confucianism now proceeded to shape into its 
final form was actually, although perhaps without conscious in- 
tent, a true syncretism of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian 
thought. 12 

The Sung scholars, triumphing in this return to Confucianism, 
were nevertheless determined to base their doctrine on a critical 
and relatively objective interpretation of the canonical texts. Thus 
the great scKolar Ou-yang Hsiu (1007-1072) undertook to 'expur- 
gate from the commentaries on the classics all interpretations of 
a philosophic-religious character drawn from the wei-shu of the 
Han. He raised doubts as to the authenticity of the traditional 
commentary of the Shih-ching, thereby inaugurating a more cri- 
tical attitude with regard to the canonicals'. Likewise the famous 
philosopher and historian Chu Hsi (1130-1200) and with him 
numerous scholars 'began to suspect the "ancient text" of the 
Shu-ching, which is in fact a falsified text. Chu Hsi also eliminated 

M There was, however, no persecution of the Buddhist cult under the Sung. 
It was then that the famous T*ieh-t'a pagoda (or 'iron' pagoda, because of its red 
brick), which dates from 963-967, was built. Cf. Siren, History of Early Chinese 
Art, iy, Architecture, pi.. 73). And towards the end of the dynasty we likewise 
have the erection in Ch^uan-chou (Fukien)— which is the great port of Zayton, 
admired by Marco Polo and Odoric de Pordenone— of the two large octagonal 
stone pagodas, with inscriptions of 1228 and 1247 (Siren, Ibid., pi. 84. Cf. G. 
Ecke and P. Demieville, The Twin Pagodas of Zayton, Harvard, 1935), 


the preface of the Skih-cbing from his edition of this classic, 
because he did not consider it authentic. He devoted himself to 
setting forth clearly the general meaning of the passages studied, 
without however neglecting the philological point of view'. 13 
In short we see here, in the study of texts, the birth of a critical 
instinct comparable to that of our first humanists. 

There can be little doubt that this medieval criticism of texts 
led to conclusions that modern criticism would refute. Such was 
the case with the scholar Fan Chung-yen (989-1052) who was 
of the opinion 'that the I-cbing expressed the ideas of Confuc- 
ius, whereas the Ch'un-ch'iu represented his practical teaching'. 
But the main concern was to rationalize the Confucian tradition, 
and it is this state of mind that is interesting. Moreover, in con- 
formity with the spirit of ancient Confucianism, the Neo-Confuc- 
ianism that was thus being elaborated remained dedicated to 
wholly civic and social ends. 'It was in the Ch'un-cb'iu that Sun Fo 
(about 1050) discovered the secrets of the prosperity of States, 
and Ou-yang Hsiu a. solid basis for civic morality.' 

Indeed these scholars, henceforth closely linked with gov- 
ernment, from the highest ministerial functions in the immediate 
entourage of the sovereign, to provincial administration, brought 
to the reading of the classics and to the commentaries which they 
compiled for them, a realistic and positive, not to say positivist 
spirit. Men of the library, undeniably, but at the same time 
experienced in practical affairs, the great Sung scholars were 
almost all, in one way or another, intellectuals who were, as we 
say today, 'committed'. 

Such a one was the reformer Wang An-shih (1021-1086). In 
1075 he promulgated by imperial edict a decision concerning the 
three canonical books, the Shih-ching, the Sbu-ching and the 
Cbou-li, to the effect that the only authorized commentaries would 
be those that he himself had composed under the suggestive title 
of 'New Meaning of the Three Classics* (San-ching hsin-i). In 

18 O. Kaltenmark, Literature cbinoise, p. 83. 

1 ■j^v*-; • " y^/i:"^" 

,/:'.'.-?.tV' ' " X*- .;i,A" 

"^ .:. '4. 


1 (111 






(A. Wang Meng [iiei 138$): Landscape (details). Ink ani color on 
paper. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 

65. Ni Tsan (1301-1374): Landscape, dated 1362 (detail). Ink on 
paper. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 


the same spirit, he eliminated from the examinations the purely 
literary tests and replaced them by practical subjects (law, pol- 
itical economy). The planned economy which he introduced was, 
in fact, the practical application of the social theories of trad- 
itional Confucianism. Before him, other Sung ministers had al- 
ready organized a public welfare system and adumbrated what 
we would call a social security programme. Wang An-shih pushed 
social insurance and planned economy to the point of a veritable 
state socialism (crop loans, price control, law of maximum pro- 
fit, etc.) 14 A minister from 1069 to 1074 and again from 1075 
to 1085, he was able, with the support of emperor Shen-tsung, to 
apply his reform programme, but was finally forced to relinquish 
power before the opposition of the conservatives. 

The chiefs of the conservative party were also scholars: Ou- 
yang Hsiu, already mentioned (1007-1072), Ssu-ma Kuang (1019- 
1086) and Su Tung-p'o (1036-1101). Hostile to Wang An-shih's 
state socialism (in particular as regards crop loans), they were by 
no means opposed to the laws on social aid, which were then 
unanimously accepted. 

Ssu-ma Kuang gave to neo-Confucianist traditionalism a 
majestic foundation in composing his monumental Historical 
Mirror (Tzu-chib t'ung-chieii), completed in 1084, the first man- 
ual of Chinese history to be obtained by compiling the suc- 
cessive dynastic histories; a work, moreover, in the Confucian 
manner which, despite a remarkable topo-chronological precision, 
is consistently concerned with civic education and moral enlighten- 
ment, as the very title announces, proclaiming that it has been 
composed 'in order to help govern'. 15 

Sung thought is characterized by the founding of a powerful 

14 H. R. Williamson, Wang An-shih, a Chinese Statesman and Educationalist 
of the Sung Dynasty, London, 1935-1937.— Tcheou Hoan, Le pret sur la recolte 
et Wang Ngan-che, Paris, 1930. 

* See Robert Des Rotours, Le traiti des examens, pp. 74-81.— We may recall 
that Ssu-ma Kuang's compilation covers the period from 403 B.C. to 959 a.i>., 
the eve of the accession of the Sung. 


philosophical school, of a strictly Confucianist description, but 
one which, having assimilated the metaphysical conceptions of 
Taoism and Buddhism, brought to the ancient Confucian 'posi- 
tivism' what it still lacked: a fully-fledged philosophical system. 
As has been said — although the comparison is somewhat strain- 
ed — it is Auguste Comte 'crowned' by Herbert Spencer's First 

As a precursor of this great movement, mention should first 
be made of the exegetist and mathematician Shao Yung (1011- 
1077). Strongly imbued with Taoism and Buddhism, Shao Yung, 
taking the commentary on the I-ching as the basis of his 
teaching, sought to discover in the heart (hsin), that is to say 
in the absolute self, the equivalent of Buddha-hood as also of 
the tao or, as he expressed it, the Supreme Ultimate (T'ai-chi). 
'Always quoting Confucius, he thought like Lao-tzu'. But the 
synthesis of the three doctrines was not yet complete in his case, 
since its various elements could still be distinguished. 16 It was 
left to a contemporary of Shao Yung, Chou Tun-i, to present a 
neo-Confucianist syncretism which had absorbed Buddhist and 
Taoist metaphysics to such a degree that the suspicions of the 
scholars would no longer be awakened. 17 

Chou Tun-i (1017-1073) did in fact fully develop the concept 
of the "Supreme Ultimate* (Tai-chi), the primary principle of all 
things, the cause and the purpose of the evolution of the universe. 
Like all Neo-Confutianists, he went back to a very ancient con- 
cept, borrowed from primitive cosmogony, which enabled him 
to invoke the authority of the I-cbing. In reality, as we have 
seen in connection with Shao Yung, the supreme principle thus 
conceived could appear as such only to thinkers already familiar 
with the Taoist concept of the Absolute (the Tao according to 
Chuang-tzu), as with the concept of 'Absolute Nature' or im- 

* Maspero, Les religions ckinois, p. 106. 

M Fung Yu-Lan, Rise of Neo-Confucianism and its Borrowings from Bud- 
dhism and Taoism, Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, April, 1942. 


manent Essence of the universe (bbuta tat hat a) according to the 
Buddhism of the Tien-t'ai. 

The system in question was developed by the two brothers 
Ch'eng Hao (1032-1085) and Ch'eng I (1033-1107). It was im- 
mortalized by Chu Hsi (1130-1200). 18 

Chu Hsi was active, and showed equal mastery, in three fields : 
in philosophy, in the criticism of canonical texts or Confucian 
exegesis, and in historical synthesis. 

As a thinker, Chu Hsi has given us the philosophical Summa 
of his time. At the origin of things he places Non-Being (Wu- 
cht), in reality universal potentiality, since it is from this that 
the First Principle {Tai-chi) emerges and frees itself— the uni- 
versal Substance, in other words, in its still undifferentiated plen- 
itude. Similar to the Tao of the Neo-Taoists, or to the supreme 
Brahman of Hindu thought, the Tai-chi, in differentiating itself, 
gives rise to and, up to a certain point, temporarily becomes the 
world of matter as well as the world of spirit. These two worlds 
both proceed from universal Energy {ch'i), which is nothing other 
than the universal urge of the Tai-chi, a cosmic urge, a vital 
urge, soul of souls and of worlds. It is difficult to avoid noting 
how close such concepts are to Indian metaphysics, in this case 
to Brahmanic philosophy, already propagated in China (in the 
Tang period) by Buddhism, even when Buddhism was fighting 
it. What seems at first sight more specifically Chinese is the im- 
portance given by Chu Hsi to the combined laws of nature {It) 
that dictate this whole evolution, 'necessary' laws which, through 
a mechanistic determinism deriving from the intermeshing of 
cause and effect, free absolute being from universal potentiality, 
and then oblige it to emit its Energy and to regulate the flow of 

18 Le Gall, Le philosophe Tchou Hi, Shanghai, 1894. J. Percy Bruce, Chu 
Hsi and his Masters, an Introduction to the Chu Hsi and the Sung School of 
Chinese Philosophy, London, 1923. J. P. Bruce, The Philosophy of Human Nature 
by Chu Hsi, London, 1922. Fung Yu-Lan, Philosophy of Chu Hsi, Harvard 
Journal of Asiatic Studies, April, 1942. W. E. Hocking, Chu Hsi's Theory of 
Knowledge, ibid, p. 109- 


this Energy in accordance with an evolutionary process, which, 
in its passage from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, is both 
logical and inevitable, and which causes the worlds and the 
creatures that inhabit them to appear in sequence, one after the 
other. Such phases of evolution and of creation, however, by 
virtue of the same determinism, are succeeded by periods of 
involution and of regression, of return from the heterogeneous 
to the homogeneous, which bring things back to the primordial 
indeterminate. Periods of creation and periods of destruction thus 
succeed one another mechanically through time eternal 

A Chinese philosopher friend of ours has pointed out to us 
that Chu Hsi had thus anticipated the quite modern conception 
according to which the cosmos 'breathes* with a gigantic rhythm, 
through phases of 'universe in expansion' and of 'universe in 
contraction, from the primordial atom to the galaxies, from the 
galaxies back again to the Abbe Lemaltre's and Paul Couderc's 
single atom. What we observe, in any case, is that this rhythm 
of cosmic breathing is first and foremost an Indian conception, 
a Brahmanic concept, linked to the periodic sleeping and awak- 
ing of Visnu. 19 

Chu Hsi's system could never have become the official system 
of the School of Scholars (Ju-chiao), the very codification of Neo- 
Confucianism, if it had not shown that the entire traditional 
code of ethics could be deduced from these first principles, if 
it had not established unshakably on these scientific foundations 
the very bases of society. In point of fact, the rigorous determi- 
nism that he developed enabled him, in social and individual 

* Compare the theory of 'creation, conservation and dissolution of the world' 
in the Hindu Vedanta (Oltramare, Tbiosopbie brabmanique, Musee Guimet, 1906, 
pp. 181 ff.) and the similar theory in Chu Hsi (trans. Le Gall, pp. 99 ff.) The 
'bridge' is provided by the Buddhist treatise Abbbidbarma koU fastra by Vasu- 
bandhu, a Sanskrit text widely distributed in China, which, in order to combat 
the Hindu thesis, expounds it in obliging detail. (Rene Grousset, Les pbilosopbies 
indiennes, I, p. 174). May we recall that the Abbkidbarma koia fastra had been 
translated into Chinese (under the title A-p'i-ta-mo cbiu-sbe shih lun) by Pa- 
ramartha (died 569) and by Hsuan-tsang (died 664). 


ethics, to arrive at the equivalent of our Kantian categorical 
imperative. He holds that the moral law, for each one of us, 
is but the emanation of the laws of nature and our participation 
in these laws. Universal determinism imperatively determines our 
submission to the laws of the civic State and to virtue. It is an 
application, on a grandiose scale, of the ancient Confucian 
conception of the harmony between 'earth' and 'heaven', with 
its identification of the cosmic and the moral orders. 

We need not be astonished if Chinese thought felt itself at 
home in Chu Hsi's system; if, despite the unconscious borrowing 
that he may have made from what Neo-Confucianist thought 
had assimilated of Taoism and of Indianity, he was considered 
the very incarnation of Neo-Confucianism. He had transformed 
the most ancient 'Confucian* conceptions into a complete philo- 
sophical system, thus deservedly being regarded in future cen- 
turies as the incarnation of Chinese thought, even as Aristotle 
was regarded by the men of the Middle Ages as the incarnation 
of Greek thought, and as Saint Thomas is still in our eyes the 
incarnation of mediaeval thought. 

In the realm of exegesis, Chu Hsi, as we have seen, rejected 
the traditional preface of the Shih-ching from his edition of the 
classics because he considered it (and rightly so) to be a falsifi- 
cation. Apart from this, it was he who combined the 'Analects 
of Confucius' (the Lun-yit) The Great Learning* (Td-bsueh) 9 
'The Doctrine of the Mean* (Chung-yung) and 'The Book of 
Mendus' (Meng-tzu) to form the collection known as the 'Four 
Books' (Ssu Shu), which became thenceforward the definitive 
basis for all official teaching. 

Finally Chu Hsi revised and abridged Ssu-ma Kuang's histor- 
ical compilation by writing, in 59 chapters, the Tung-chien 
kang-mu, a manual of Chinese history dated 1172, the main part 
of which covers the period between 403 B.C. and 959 a.d. 20 This 

* The period previous to 403 was added by a disciple of Chu Hsi. 


is the work of historical synthesis that served so long, from 
Mailla to Wieger, as a basis for our studies. 

* * * 

Several of the philosophers and statesmen whom we have 
named above were also writers of talent. Ou-yang Hsiu and 
Su Tung-p'o are regarded as the best prose-writers of the period. 
Ou-yang Hsiu (1007-1072), in collaboration with Sung Ch'i, 
wrote the 'New History of the Tang' (Hsin Tang shu), which 
was completed in 1060 and immediately printed. He has also 
left us in prose 'some essays on landscapes that are very ap- 
pealing'. 21 Apart from his impressionist descriptions in prose, 
the anthologies always include his verses, both those in the style 
of the old Tang poetry {shih) and those in the new style (tz'u) 
which became popular with the Sung and which were poems 
written to be sung to music for which the author composed the 
melody as well as the words.* 2 In verse as in prose, Ou-yang 
Hsiu's descriptions of scenery recall the painting of the same 

Su Tung-p'o, also known by the name of Su Shih (1036- 
1101), who was, and still is, regarded as an authority on art 
history and art criticism, 28 has also left us picturesque descriptive 
essays. All the anthologies include the account of his two ex- 
cursions to the 'Red Cliff', a famous piece of scenery on the 
banks of the Yangtze in Hupei, or his journey to the Mountain 
of the Stone Bell on the shores of Lake Po-yang. 24 Su Tung-p'o's 

* See in Margoulies, Le Kou-wen, pp. 257 ff., and by the same, Anthologie 
de la UtteWature chinoise, p. 363, various translations of the poetic prose of Ou- 
yang Hsiu, relating travel impressions, full of picturesqueness and sensitivity 
('Story of the Cottage of the Drunken Old Man', 'Sounds of autumn , , etc.). 

* See Feng Shu-Ian, La technique et Vhistoire du ts'eu, Paris, 1935. 

* See Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, I, pp. 112, 116 etc. 

* Translations in Margoulies, Le Kou-wen, p. 292, and Anthologie de la 
litthature chinoise, p. 385. See also Lin Yu-tang, The Gay Genius. The Life and 
Times of Su Tung-p'o, London, 1948. Le Gros Clark, Selections from the Works 


verses have the same sources of inspiration. He is an archeologist 
as well as a poet, and no one has evoked the melancholy of ruins 
more movingly: 

South of the old town, ten leagues beyond the walls, 

The murmur of a spring can be heard between the rocks by 

the road. 
In the distance stands a temple. You must dismount from your 

horse to get a better view. 
If you proceed to the foot of the temple, you discover the spring. 
The earth is fertile; the grasses and the trees are startlingly green. 
The old thujas grow thick, casting a blue shade... 
... Here men have fought for centuries. 
The whole population has left for other parts, the old battlements 

have been levelled. 
The autumn grasses spread their greenness that blankets the 

empty walls. 
All is abolished, there remain only the vestiges of the past. 
All is peaceful and silent in the mountains and on the river. 
I have come here, I have climbed up to see, I have sighed. 
My white hairs have been reflected for a moment in the pure 

The birds sing, the men have left, the gates of the temple are 

Only the moon of the mountains ever strays here, solitary. 25 

Painting under the Sung 

We noted that during the period of the Five Dynasties land- 
scape painting (literally 'mountains and waters', shan-shui), had 
seen the introduction of monochrome painting or wash-drawing 

of Su Tung-p'o, London, 1931; and The Prose Poetry of Su Tung-p'o, Shanghai, 
1935. Teng Ku, Su Tung-p'o als Kunstkritiker, Ostasiatische Zeitscbrift, vni, 
1932, p. 104. 

* Margouliis, Antbologie, p. 376. 


in Indian ink * But it was the Sung masters who immortalized 
this genre. For the idealized painting that they were to practise, 
wash constituted the most adequate mode of expression. The 
tones of Indian ink, skilfully varied, merging into or contrasting 
with the spaces left blank, brought out the essential planes of 
the landscape; the mist which the painters knew how to make 
use of so adroitly, conferred upon the scenes painted a magic 
detached from everything material'. 26 

In order fully to understand the technique of these wash- 
drawings we must remember the unchanging rules of Chinese 
perspective. The best description of it remains that of Raphael 
Petrucci: 'Chinese perspective... was evolved in an age when the 
method of superimposing different registers to indicate different 
planes was still being practised in bas-reliefs. The succession of 
planes, one above the other, when codified, led to a system 
totally different from our monocular perspective. It resulted in 
a perspective as seen from a height. No account is taken of the 
habitual height of the eye in relation to the picture. The line 
of the horizon is placed very high, parallel lines, instead of 
joining at the horizon, remain parallel, and the different planes 
range one above the other in such a way that the eye embraces 
a vast space...' — a panoramic space, so to say — . 'To this linear 
perspective is added moreover an atmospheric perspective. 
Having elected from a very early time to paint in monochrome, 
Chinese painters were led by the nature of this medium to seek 
to express atmospheric perspective by means of tone values and 
harmony of shading instead of by colour. Thus they were fami- 
liar with chiaroscuro before the European painters. Wang Wei 
established the principles of atmospheric perspective in the 
eighth century. He explains how tints are graded, how the in- 
creasing layers of air deprive distant objects of their true col- 
ouring, substituting a bluish tinge, and how forms become indis- 

* Indian ink, in French: encte de Chine (translator's note). 

* Serge Elisseeff, Histoire universelle de Vart (Reau), Vol. rv, p. 337. 



66. Above: Chao Ming-ju {1245-1322): A Sheep and a Goat. Ink 
. on paper. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. Below: Chao Yung 
{bom 1289): Horse and Groom in a Red Coat. Ink and color on 
paper. Freer Gallery of Art, Washington. 


tinct in proportion as their distance from the observer increas- 
es'. 27 Indian ink readily lent itself to these conceptions. Diluted 
with water in varying proportions according to the relative 'im- 
portance of the planes and in places applied with 'cloud-like' 
reserves, it enabled the painter to give full value to the mists 
and impalpable vapours which, when interposed between the 
foreground and the distances, invested these with mystery and 
dream-like suggestiveness. 

The landscape thus conceived reflected the influence of the 
mystical idealism that the Buddhist sect of the Ch'an had pro- 
pagated since the Tang. 

We have spoken of the origins of this sect, the name of 
which is simply the Chinese transcription of Sanskrit dhyona, 
'meditation', 'contemplation', and whose doctrine was supposed 
to have first been preached after the first quarter of the sixth 
century by the Indian missionary Bodhidharma (in Chinese: 
Ta-mo). It was not, however, until a century later, in the time 
of its sixth patriarch, Hui-neng (637-713, patriarch in 675), 
that its doctrines were finally formulated. According to Suzuki, 
Hui-neng must in fact be considered to be the real founder of 
Ch'an Buddhism, both because of his doctrine of intuition (the 
apprehending in ourselves of our own 'true nature', which will 
reveaL itself to be a 'Buddha-nature') and because of his method 
(the 'abrupt' or 'instantaneous' teaching— -in Sanskrit: yugapad, 
in Chinese: tun-chiao), a doctrine and a method, Suzuki observes, 
that are purely Chinese. 28 It is indeed difficult not to see in 
them unconscious reminiscences of Taoism. 

Even though emperor Chung-tsung (705-710) extended his 
favour to Hui-Neng, the Tang period was of too realistic a 
character for Ch'an to have exerted much influence. It was a time 
when, as we have seen, other forms of Buddhism prevailed. In 

* Raphael Petrucci, Chinese Painters, translated by Frances Seaver, New York, 
1920, pp. 29, 30. 

* Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series, in the Collected Series, 
London, 1950, pp. 216-226. 


the Sung art coteries, on the other hand, Ch'an mysticism found 
a favourable setting and was to make its influence felt to the 
full. 29 Where, if not here, might one expect to find a better 
understanding of the pure dhyanic doctrine — the doctrine accord- 
ing to which 'Buddha-hood', that is to say the spiritual essence 
of things, is the same in everything, is inherent in man as in 
animal, in the tree as in the rock? (We are familiar with the 
way in which, in Zen gardens, devotions were made to the 
'personality* of every rock that forms a part of the miniature 
yet vast landscape). 80 Where, if not here, might one expect to 
find a better appreciation of the dhyanic affirmation that it is the 
voice of Illumination that speaks to us in the dialogue of birds, 
in the roar of torrents, in the moaning of the wind in the pine- 

Like the Ch'an contemplatives, the Sung painters were to 
spend much time 'meditating on nature'. They were to 'lay bare 
its spirit' and it was 'the spirit of nature' that they were to 
reveal to us. They were to recreate nature for us, not in an arti- 
ficial and academic manner, to be sure, but so to speak meta- 
physically, after having purified it of its materiality (whence the 
abandonment of colour) by removing almost every concrete fea- 
ture and retaining nothing but its hidden spirituality and its 
pure essence. 

Landscape thus conceived truly became, as Serge Elisseeff 
notes, the expression of a soul-state, of a mood (chi-yiin) induced 
by the composition itself, and also, according to the Sanskrit 
formula, the expression of a mystical communion {samadht). 
It became a 'subjective landscape'. 81 Because he abolishes time 
and number the dhyanist, as Arthur Waley remarks, has at one 
stroke reduced the universe to unity, the landscape to unanimity. 

* See Carol Baumann, A few psychological aspects of Ch'an Buddhism, 
Artibus Asiae, vill, 2-4, p. 216. 

30 See in particular Tsuyoshi Tamura, Jar dins japonais, Tokyo, 1939, pp. 27 
& 45. 

a Chou Ling, La sagesse chinoise, Paris, 1946, p. 4A. 


The concrete once dissociated from it, the universe ceases to be 
anything other than the universal soul. 32 Inspired by these concep- 
tions, Sung wash-drawing was to transpose nature (to use the 
Buddhist formulas once more) on the 'plane of ideals' (dbar- 
madhatu), to the state of all-ideality {Cittamatra, vjianamatra). 
The visions of space in which the Sung masters were to delight 
were such as to express the sentiment, both Ch'an and Taoist, 
that thing s are but ideality, that all the apparent concrete is but 
an 'assemblage of mists'. Cloud, haze, mist— mist above all— is 
in Buddhism as in Taoism the very image of universal imper- 
manence and insubstantiality. (The concept of impermanence, in 
the texts of both religions, is evoked in every line). 38 Behind the 
interposed mists that separate the various planes in die Sung 
wash-drawings, the mountains themselves float as if they had no 
real existence. All concreteness becomes dissolved, to reveal, in 
the very heart of the universal void of Buddhism (Sunyata) which 
lies behind the moving veil of 'this world of dew', a glimpse of 
the ancient tao of Chuang-tzu, which is identical with the su- 
preme t'd-cht of the Chu Hsi school: the essence of the cosmos, 
the ultimate reality ** 

" Arthur Waley, Zen Buddhism in its Relation to Art, pp. 21 and 24. 

» See for example among many texts the Dbarma-samuecaya (Compendium 
de la hoi bouddbique). 

* It is strange to note that the metaphysical flight over the realm of nature 
to which the Sung landscape painters of dhyanfc or Ch'an inspiration invite us 
furnishes us real 'aircraft views' of the face of the earth, a universe perceived 
or half-made-out from beyond the clouds. Compare in this respect the landscapes 
of the last 'Sung painter-, alive at the present time, the old Japanese master 
Taikan whose exhibition in Tokyo in 1949 we had the privdege of ateunng, 
and certain albums of views taken from aircraft, for example that of Atred Curry 
{A trovers les nuages) or that of Chombart de Iauwe, Dicouverte *u*«dM 
monde, Paris, 1948. The analogy is often striking... On the Chinese *»«**• 
of our perspective and on 'the Chinese eye', see in V*^- *******??* 
Pbilosopbie de la nature dans Part d 'Extreme-Orient, Pans, 1911. ««. m ha 
monumental translation of the Kiai tseu yuan boua tcbouan f f^°^ ite J' 
la peinture chin oh e, Paris, 1912. Wang Wei (attributed to) Rivilattondts secrets 
del* peinture, trans. Serge Elisseeff in Revue des Arts ,£«*W D»»£- 
Otto Fischer, Cbinesiscbe Landscbaftsmalerei, Munich, 1923. Ludwig Bachofer, 


It would, however, be excessive to see in such aesthetic con- 
ceptions the influence of Ch'an Buddhism alone. The great cosmic 
dream of the Taoists was along the same line, and so was ]u-chiao 
monism. Like the metaphysics of Chu Hsi, the Sung wash- 
drawing expressed in its own manner the fusion of the most 
ancient Chinese traditions with the Buddhist contributions, which 
had by this time become assimilated as an integral part of Chinese 
aesthetics as well as of Chinese philosophy. 

* * * 

In the early years of the Sung dynasty we find three good 
landscapists attracting attention at the court of K'ai-feng: Hsu 
Tao-ning, Tung Yiian (a Buddhist monk who had come in 975 
from Nanking to K'ai-feng) and Fan Kuan (born about the 
middle of the tenth century, died after 1026). Under the name 
of Tung Yiian the Boston Museum owns an admirable fragment 
called C A Clear Day in the Valley', an impressionistic panorama, 
remarkably well balanced. 'We travel — first in a ferry across the 
broad river*, writes Siren, 'then along the road that winds among 
the trees on the promontory, and finally on the mountain path 
which leads up to the temple, faintly visible at the bottom of 
the misty gorge. The peaceful grandeur of the whole scenery is 
brought out with rare force and concentration; it impresses us 
as a symphonic composition, or an epic description of the great 
mountains and waters... The mist and the water form, so to say, 
the bridge to the infinite... But the big masses of mountains and 

Die Raumdarstellung in der chinesischen Malerei, Munchner Jahrbucher der Bil- 
dende Kunst, 1931. B. March, Linear Perspective in Chin ese Painting, Eastern 
Art, hi, Philadelphia, 1931. A. "Waley, An Introduction to the History of Chinese 
Painting, London, 1923. Chiang Yee, The Chinese Eye, London, 1935. S. Ka- 
nahara, Studies in the Theory of Painting in Ancient China, Tokyo, 1924. O. Siren, 
The Chinese on the Art of Painting, Peking, 1956, Okumura Ikura, La montagne 
dans les peintures chinoises, in the review Yurinasu, Tokyo, 1939- George Rowley, 
The Principles of Chinese Painting, Princeton University, 1948. 

67- JSastr, Afitig Dynasty, Afus^e Guimet, Paris. 

€8. Vase, famille verte. Ch'itig Dynasty, 1622-1772. Mush Guimet, 


the clusters of the dark trees are painted with a firm and resolute 
brush which gives to every detail its full volume'. 35 

As for Fan Kuan, he abandoned the lessons of the learned 
in order to attend solely the school of the hills and forests, to 
'study the soul of the mountain'. Over his name the Boston 
Museum shows two wash-drawings in the form of fans (or 
'screens'), Trees and Rocks' and 'Snow on the River-bank', of 
a penetratingly poetic quality. The second of these, a small paint- 
ing 10 inches wide, nevertheless conveys an intense impression, 
with its snow-covered heights, its bare and twisted trees and 'the 
moisty winter air', as Sir&i says, 'from which the contours of 
the distant mountains barely emerge'. The other 'fan' is again 
a winter landscape with huge trees that have 'bare trunks with 
big roots that penetrate amidst the snow-covered rocks', a work 
of 'uncommonly bold and large design' no matter from whose 
hand it may have come (it does not seem to be by the same 
painter as the previous one). 36 

To the following generation belongs Kuo Hsi (about 1020- 
1090). He was born in Honan. His contemporaries praised in 
him a powerful and original feeling for nature: his mountains, 
we are told, coiled like clouds, like serpents. His rocks were 
crouched like tigers ready to leap, or else had the look of de- 
moniacal heads. His bare trees stretched or twisted their branches 
like the claws of beasts of prey. Among the works that can be 
attributed to him, on the basis of such testimony, with least 
improbability, is the scroll in the Freer Gallery called 'Autumn 
Day in the Valley of the Yellow River'. Here again we have a 
vast panorama with enormous mossy rocks standing up like 
'menhirs', and bare, knotted trees like weird monsters. 37 

• Siren, Chinese Paintings in American Collections, Annales du Musee 
Guimet, Bibliotheque d'Art, Nouvelle Sene, 2 vols., Paris, Brussels, 1928, Vol. I, 
pis. 22-24. Idem, History of Early Chinese Painting, Vol. I, pp. 133-134, pis. 94-96. 

38 Idem, Chinese Paintings in American Collections, Vol. I, pis. 12 and 17. 
Early History of Chinese Painting, I, pi. 100. 

* Idem, Chinese Paintings in American Collections, Vol. I, pis. 27-29. 


While Kuo Hsi's paintings have nearly all been lost, his son 
has collected his remarks on art. This is a text entitled 'Great 
Message of the Forests and Rivers' {Lin ch'iian kao-chih), in- 
troduced by a 'Commentary on mountains and rivers', that is to 
say on landscape painting (Shan-shui hsiin). 38 The deep sources 
of Sung sensibility, of Sung impressionism, are here directly re- 
vealed to us as this master of the brush passes on to us the 
secrets gained from long experience. The interest of such a text 
lies in the fact that its precision of technical detail, its indications 
as to how a thing is done, by no means detract from the aesthetic 
sensibility it conveys. The virtuoso who teaches his pupils the 
practice of his craft, those methods whereby representations of 
mountains and waters, trees and clouds, may be given their full 
value, remains a poet in ecstasy before the clouds and trees, the 
waters and the mountains. Herein lies the difference between 
this kind of 'artist's notebook' and the treatises on painting of 
the Ming or Ch'ing periods, the difference between Sung spon- 
taneity and later academicism. Sung art is a living art. Kuo Hsi 
himself proclaims it: 'Water (in a painting) which does not flow 
and murmur may be called dead water. Clouds which are not 
alive may be called frozen clouds'. He ridicules, in the work 
of a contemporary painter, 'mountains, on which one cannot 
distinguish the clear from the dark parts' and which have no 
'mist or shade'. 'Mountains without mist and cloud', he pro- 
claims, 'are like a spring without flowers and grass'. Unweary- 
ingly, he repeats to us that 'water is a thing alive', and that the 
mountain is like a human being. 

Not of least interest is the kind of picturesque geography, 
with precise details, that he gives us as he recounts his travels 

* Translation in Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, n, pp. 14-22. 
Also see A. Waley, An Introduction to the History of Chinese Painting, pp. 189- 
194. And a more recent translation, Kuo Hsi, An Essay on Landscape Painting 
(Lin ch'iian kao-chih), translated by Shio Sakanishi, London, 1935. See also 
Soper, Some Technical Terms in the Early Literature of Chinese Painting, 
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1948, p. 163. 


through the various Chinese provinces and his visits to famous 

Kuo Hsi's fundamental idea, Sir6ti observes, the idea of the 
intimate communion between the artist and the very soul of 
nature, animates and explains all Sung painting. His sense of 
space and of atmospheric perspective, too, was to inspire most 
of the landscape painters of this great period. Even more than 
the mountains and waters, space is a living thing for the Sung 
painters. It is all life and all spirituality. In nearly all the Sung 
paintings it remains the principal subject. Space is here a 

But what varied talents there are in this galaxy! Mi Fei 
(1051-1107) for example, had his own manner. Enormous mossy 
rocks standing up like menhirs and roughly sketched, or corners 
of forests submerged in cotton-wool mists. It is exemplified by 
a scroll in the Peking Museum: in the foreground a group of 
pine trees; on the horizon a great crested wave of peaks, half 
seen through the mist and drowning all the intermediate space. 39 
A scroll in the Freer Gallery has the same character: a forest 
river in the foreground; further off, the crests of rounded moun- 
tain peaks, separated by trails of mist rising from the valleys. 40 
By contrast, Chao Ta-nien, a lord of the imperial family of the 
Sung (circa 1080-1100), works in a minute style. His name is 
mentioned in connection with a round fan called 'The Pavilion 
under the Willows' today in the Boston Museum, a little master- 
piece in which the wash-drawing has the finish of a miniature: 
on the bend of a creek, at the foot of a hill the summit of which 

* Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, II, pi. 5. 

* Idem, Chinese Paintings in American Collections, I, pi. 26. History of Early 
Chinese Painting, II, pi. 6. We know that Mi Fei went to study the landscapes 
of the region of Kweilin, in Kwangsi. See the photographs of the vicinity of 
Kweilin compared to the painter's works, in Okumura, Les montagnes dans la 
peinture chinoise, in the review Yurinasu, Tokyo, 1935, pp. 531-539. On the 
karst limestone character of the Kwangsi mountains, see Cressey, Asia lands and 
Peoples, New York, 1944, p. 138. On the personality and very original character 
of Mi Fei, cf . Percival David, The Chinese Exhibition, Revue des Arts Asiatiques t 
DC, 4, Dec. 1935, p. 173. 


is blurred, a house screened by a weeping willow with branches 
from which the leaves have partly fallen; atmospheric values 
rendered with a delicate touch. 41 

The painter Li Lung-mien (1040-1106), from the province 
of Anhwei, a friend of the reformist minister Wang An-shih, 
excelled in the most varied genres, from Buddhist or Taoist 
scenes to landscapes. As Siren justly remarks, however, he seems 
perhaps to have brought to religious subjects less spirituality 
than intellectuality, and to landscape less lyrical feeling than in- 
tellectual grasp. Admirable in intellectuality, in lucidity, in de- 
licacy are the few rare works that critics are still inclined to 
attribute to him. In particular may be noted, in the Freer Gal- 
lery, an 'imaginary landscape, peopled with fairies and immor- 
tals', a dream vision, with its unreal palace, standing surrounded 
by peaks so abrupt, so phantasmagoric that they might be 
structures of clouds, with the mannered elegance of the clump 
of pinetrees that crowns the foreground, with the peaceful, almost 
childish delicacy of the river that winds between calm banks, 
guarded by a weeping willow. 42 Also Lqt the Freer Gallery there 
is an "Imperial Summer Palace', or rather a succession of palaces 
and courts, which is typical of 'architectural painting', treated 
here, in the drawing of the pavilions and the 'thousand columns', 
with the refined elegance of backgrounds in Florentine paintings 
of the Quattrocento. 48 Not without reason did Victor Goloubew 
compare Li Lung-mien's technique to that of Botticelli's draw- 
ings. 44 

Among the figures that were at one time attributed to Li 
Lung-mien we may note, in the Kuroda Naganari collection, the 

41 Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, 11, pi. 13. See also in Tajima 
and Omura, Masterpieces..., viii, pis. 26-27, other wash-drawings in connection 
with which the name of Qiao Ta-nien is mentioned (Akaboshi Tetsuma and Hara 
Tomitaro collections). 

48 Siren, Chinese Paintings in American Collections, I, pis. 30-31; Idem, 
History of Early Chinese Painting, n, pi. 28. 

48 Idem, American Collections, I, pis. 32-33. History of... Painting, n, pi. 29. 

44 V. Goloubew, Li Long-mien, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, April 1914, p. 277. 

69. Hsia Ch'ang (1388-1470): The Serene Bank of the Hsiang River 
(details). Ink on paper. Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 


Buddhist 'faithful* (upasaka) Vimalaklrti (Chinese: Wei-mo- 
ch'i) an erroneous attribution, undoubtedly, but the figure of the 
holy man and saint is one of amazing psychological penetration 
and of luminous intellectuality. 45 

* * * 

The Sung emperor Hui-tsung (1101-1126) is one of the most 
interesting figures in Chinese history. A supporter, in politics, 
of Wang An-shih's reformism, in religious matters he proved to 
be strongly drawn to Taoist mysticism. 

Taoism was then in the process of turning into a kind of 
theism, with a supreme divinity, 'the Jade August One (Yu- 
huang) or 'August Pure One' (jade being a symbol of purity), 
an Absolute conceived as a transcendent and personal god. 46 One 
of Hui-tsung's predecessors, emperor Chen-tsung (998-1022), 
had in 1012 already proclaimed the existence of the August Pure 
One, 'Great Celestial Sovereign, Supreme Author of Heaven and 
of physical laws, of Good and of the Way*. In 1113 the August 
Pure One in person manifested himself before emperor Hui-tsung. 
The latter then undertook to carry out in favour of his celestial 
visitor a real syncretism of the Three Religions, a syncretism in 
which the new transcendent Taoist god found himself identified 
with the ancient Sovereign from On High of the Confucians, 
while the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and arhats of Buddhism were 
invited to become incorporated in the pantheon thus fused. 47 

Besides being a mystic, Hui-tsung was an aesthete, an ar- 

* Tajima and Omura, Masterpieces Selected from the Fine Arts of the Far 
East, vol. vin, Tokyo, 1910, pi. xxv. 

" H. Y. Feng, The Origin of Yu Houang, Harvard Journal of Asiatic 
Studies, 1916, p. 242. 

41 In 1119 Hui-tsung went so far as to contemplate granting the property of 
the Buddhist communities to the Taoists and obliging the Buddhist priests to choose 
between secularization and entering a Taoist monastery. These measures had been 
suggested to him by a renegade, Lin Ling-su, a former Buddhist novice who had 
gone over to Taoism. 


chaeologist, and an enthusiastic collector. He brought together 
in his palace of K'ai-feng a veritable museum of painting, of 
which we still have the catalogue. He felt at home only among 
the members of the T'u Hua Yuan academy who, clad in violet 
garments, adorned with insignia of gold and jade, obtaining the 
'golden Girdle* as supreme recompense for an immortal master- 
piece, held familiar discussions with their imperial colleague on 
whatever questions of art were uppermost in their minds. 48 Hui- 
tsung, according to his contemporaries, was himself a painter of 
talent. Many works are attributed to him, in particular paintings 
of birds (ducks, falcons, etc.) One that can be attributed to the 
imperial brush with a maximum of plausibility is the 'Quail and 
Narcissus' of the Marquis Asano collection, in Odawara, a paint- 
ing that is in fact extraordinarily forceful in its technique. 40 
There are two other paintings in Japanese collections that used 
to be attributed to emperor Hui-tsung — paintings on silk (ad- 
mirable, in any case, whoever may have been the painter): at 
the Konchi-in, in Kyoto, a poet seated at the foot of a cedar 
tree, on a mountain-side, contemplating an immense expanse of 
distances and mists traversed, at the extreme limit of visibility, 
by a flight of birds; at the Daitokuji, a standing figure, similarly 
contemplating, at early dawn, the far reaches of a landscape of 
rocks and mists. 50 

* * * 

While the imperial court of the Sung, in K'ai-f eng, reigned 
over nearly the whole of China, Peking had since 936 fallen into 
the hands of a people of Tartar race, having Mongolian affinities, 
the Ch'i-tan, or Khitai (in Chinese: the Liao), a people originally 

* Cf. Arthur Walejr, Introduction to the Study of Chinese Painting, pp. 177- 
178. Wenley, Note on the So-called Sung Academy of Painting, Harvard Journal 
of Asiatic Studies, 1941, p. 269. 

* Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, u, pi. 21. 

* Tajima and Omura, Masterpieces..,, vin, pis. 28 and 30. 


from southern Manchuria (country of Liao-yang), as well as from 
the eastern portion of Inner Mongolia. 51 

These Ch'i-tan were on the whole 'good Barbarians', in the 
sense that they proved to be relatively peace-loving and became 
Sinicized rather rapidly. We have seen that one of the painters 
of the Six Dynasties, Hu Kuei, was a Ch'i-tan, which perhaps 
explains his love of painting horses (cf . the Tartar horsemen of 
the Boston Museum). In the Ch'i-tan kingdom itself there de- 
veloped a local school, revealed to us by the eleventh century 
funerary reliefs and paintings found at several sites in southern 
Manchuria, in particular at Shih-chu-tzu (east of Liao-yang), 
An-shan (southwest of Liao-yang) and Luan-f eng (40 kilometers 
from An-shan); 52 also in Inner Mongolia, at War-manha in the 
Barin district, where one of the Ch'i-tan royal residences was 
situated. 58 

The mural paintings at War-manha adorning the tomb of 
the Ch'i-tan king Yeh-lii Tsung-chen, alias Hsing-tsung (1031- 
1055), are very beautiful; they have been studied by the Torii 
mission, and copies are kept at the University of Kyoto. 54 Special 
note should be made of a herd of stags, does and fawns in a 
landscape of wooded hills, and also a river with wild ducks and 
swans, all rendered with remarkable vividness and elegance. 55 
Such a work is not unworthy of the famous Five Dynasties pain- 
ting on silk in the Peking Museum representing an identical 

" K. Wittfogel and Feng Chia-Sheng, History of Chinese Society, liao 
(907-1125), Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 
March 1949. 

m Ryuzo Torii, Sculptured Stone Tombs of the Liao Dynasty, Harvard- 
Yenching Institute, 1942. 

w Idem, On the Wall Paintings of the Liao Dynasty, Kokka, xldc, 9-12, 
Tokyo, 1931. 

* War-manha (the modern name) is 20 li northwest of Tsaghan-khoton, in 
present-day Jehol. See Ryuzo Torii, Illustrations of Archaeology, vol. hi, preface, 
Tokyo, 1936. Wittfogel and Feng Chia-Sheng, Op. cit. 9 p. 132, note 62. 

* Ryuzo Torii, Illustrations, pi. 208. Wittfogel and Feng Chia-Sheng, Fig. I 
(frontispiece). Good reproductions, too, in Tamuro Jitsuzo, The Murals of Ch'ing- 
lung, Bijutsu Kenkyu, CLlii, 2. 


subject. 56 Again at the tomb of Hsing-tsung, at War-manha, we 
may note portraits of Ch'itan lords or of Chinese high officials 
in the service of the Ch'i-tan kings, firm compositions, showing 
psychological insight which is both sober and realistic. 57 It is 
interesting to note that what we have here is less a branch of 
Sung art than a survival of the Tang. These portraits of War- 
manha seem indeed to form the transition between the last por- 
traits of donors at Tun-huang (those of the years 980) — which 
are also 'posthumous T ang' — and the later Korean funerary 
portraits in the manner of late Ming. 58 

It is quite possible, as we have also seen, that the mural 
paintings discovered by Langdon Warner in Wan-fo-hsia, near 
Tun-huang, and first dated by him as ninth century, may have 
to be brought up to the period of the Sung and the Ch'i-tan, 
perhaps even to the domination of the Hsi-Hsia or Tangut in 
Kansu (1001-1227). 

The Ch'i-tan, in their domain on the south-Manchurian bor- 
ders as well as in Peking, were thus in process of Sinization, 
when the Sung emperor Hui-tsung, in order to recover Peking, 
manoeuvred other Barbarians into invading them. These were 
originally from North Manchuria and of Tungus stock (hence 
ancestors of the Manchus), — the Ju-chen, since known in Chinese 
by the name of the Chin ('gold' dynasty). The Chin occupied 
Peking (1122), but kept it for themselves, and, turning their 
arms against tibe Sung empire, next seized the imperial capital, 
K'ai-feng, where they captured the emperor Hui-tsung (1126). 
AH north China fell into the hands of the Chin. The Sung empire 
fell back into South China, with Hangchow, in Chekiang, as its 
new capital. 

In North China, which was subject to them for a century, 

68 Catalogue of the International Exhibition of Chinese Art, 1935-1936, 
London, &g. 755. 

w Wittfogel and Feng Chia-Sheng, loc. cit., p. 229. 

M Musie Cernuschi, Exposition d'art corien, 1946, p. 20. 


the Chin, as later their great-nephews the Manchu, set up strong 
military colonies. 59 Perhaps this proto-Manchu population influx 
in the region of Peking and the Yellow River basin in the twelfth 
century had, as we shall see later, a certain influence on art. 

* * * 

The Sung empire, henceforth restricted to South China (1127- 
1276), very rapidly recovered its prosperity. Hangchow, the new 
imperial capital, built on one of the most picturesque sites in 
the Far East and celebrated as such by the greatest Chinese poets, 
was also admired by our Marco Polo and by the blessed Odoric 
de Pordenone who both, we distinctly feel, looked upon this 
Citadel of the Waters, this city of lakes and bridges, as a Far- 
eastern Venice. 60 

Dispersed for a brief period by the invasion of the Chin, the 
Academy of Fine Arts at K'ai-feng was re-established in Hang- 
chow around a constellation of talented painters. Among those 
of the first generation, in the reign of emperor Kao-tsung (1127- 
1162), we shall mention Chao Po-chii and Chiang Ts'an. At- 
tached to the former name is a handscroll in the Boston Museum 
on which a vast panorama of mountains is the setting for historical 
episodes; the subject is most skilfully treated, the procession of 
small figures having the finish of a miniature — a manner that 
we find in Japanese art in the Kamakura period. Under the name 
of Chiang Ts'an, the Metropolitan Museum, New York, displays 
another panorama known as 'The Hundred Oxen', equally clever 
and even a little facile. 

In the following period, during the last quarter of the 
twelfth century, Hangchow produced the greatest Chinese land- 
scapists of all time. First of all, the Ma family. Labelled with 

* a. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1938, p. 194 (according to Mikami 

60 Marco Polo, Chap. cli. Odoric de Pordenone (French adaptation by Ren6 
Grousset and Henriette Demoulin-Bernard), Chap, xxi, p. 53. 


the name of one of the first Ma, Ma K uei {circa 1150-1224), the 
Magoshi Kyohei collection in Tokyo has a fan representing a 
boat on a lake at nightfall: 'a projecting stone, a few reeds, a 
boat with two men, and the faint silhouette of mountain tops 
in the misty background... It is one of those exquisitely simple 
compositions where the painter with the greatest economy of 
means has suggested something beyond definition — a reflection 
of infinity../ 61 

Ma Yuan, brother of the former, who worked around 1190- 
1224, is even greater. His themes and his manner not only inspir- 
ed later Chinese art but also the Japanese school of the Kano: 
villas in winter beneath pinetrees or bamboos, groups of stray 
cypress or cedars on some abrupt rock, effects of mist drowning 
the November plains, solitary trees twisted by the wind in a 
denuded landscape... 

Among the works most plausibly attributed to Ma Yuan may 
be mentioned the one in the Count Tanaka Mitsuoki collection, 
in Tokyo: *A philosopher (accompanied by his servant) seated 
at a stone table under a huge pine, which grows along the side 
of the composition and sends out a branch diagonally across the 
narrow field'; 62 also the moonlight scene in the Kuroda collection : 
'an overhanging cliff... from which a gnarled pine reaches out 
like a giant arm under the moon. The old man who sits on the 
terrace turns slighdy towards the background gazing at the moon, 
a small circular orb which in its loneliness serves to accentuate 
the wide, empty space'. 63 Likewise a painting in the Peking Mu- 
seum which Siren notes: 'Two large pines are growing on the 
terrace, bending diagonally and spreading their angular branches 
far over the empty space beyond. At the opposite end of the 
picture rises a straight vertical rock; the middle section between 


Sirdn, History of Early Chinese Painting, n, p. 78, pi. 54. 

Sirfn, History of Early Chinese Painting, n, p. 79. Tajima and Omura, 
Masterpieces, vm, pi. 43. 

* Sirfe, Op. cit. 9 n, pp. 79, 80, pi. 55. Tajima and Omura, Op. cit. 9 vin, 
pi. 44. 


these lofty side-wings is quite blank — bare silk — something unde- 
fined and unlimited'. Or else the Landscape in the Rain of the 
Iwasaki collection: 'Steep towering mountains fill the middle 
part of the background... The wind is shaking the trees that 
bend over the promontory where a boat is moored; a man with a 
large paper umbrella is hastening along the the mountain path to- 
wards the houses, which lie half hidden in the mist at the foot 
of a precipice. The design is centralized, but towards the right 
side it floats out into misty space where all forms disappear'. 04 
On a smaller scale the Boston Museum has a 'Landscape in 
Early Spring', an album leaf in the form of a fan, of remarkable 
delicacy: f A mountain range in the background; at its foot a 
village hidden in the mist. A stretch of water spanned by a bridge, 
and closest to the foreground two old willows with slender 
plumy branches, quivering like tendrils... There is a breath of 
morning wind touching the tops of the willows; the mist is slowly 
dissolving — otherwise no movement, no sound. The spring is still 
hesitating'. 6 * 

The most remarkable example of Ma Yuan's manner is per- 
haps the one to be found in the Baron Mitsui collection : a solitary 
fisherman in his boat, on a lake in winter, holding his rod. The 
boat is lost in the middle of the lake with no bank visible; 
nothing but the motionless water and the man attentive to his 
task. One of the most poignant works of painting of all time.* 6 

Ma Lin, son of Ma Yuan, continued the tradition that his 

•* Siren, Op. cit. a n, p. 81. Tajima and Omura, Op. cit., vm, pi. 42. Otto 
Fischer, Kunst Indiens, Chinas und Japans, pi. 499. 

• Siren, Op. cit. 9 11, p. 81, pi. 57. William Conn, Chinese Painting, London 
(Fhaidon Press), 1948. pi. 90. 

" The flat-bottomed sampan is just large enough to carry the man who 
sits in its stern, bent over the angling rod. Some faint wavy lines along its side 
indicate the water. That is all. The rest of the picture is emptiness — a silent grey 
tone as of evening mist. Motives like this may still be observed on the West Lake 
in Hangchow, but seldom, if ever, did an artist grasp so much of their significance 
in so few strokes of the brush'. Siren, Op. cit. 9 n, p. 82, pi. 59. Tajima and 
Omura, Op. cit. 9 vin, pi. 46. 


father had initiated. The Nezu collection in Tokyo has an ad- 
mirable 'Evening Landscape' by him, with a seal of 1254. 'The 
cliffs at the shore emerge only in part from the dense mist, and 
the swallows that circle over the water carry the imagination 
far into the limitless expanse'. 67 

Hsia Kuei (about 1180-1234), rival of the Ma, belonged to 
the order of the 'golden girdle' under emperor Ning-tsung. A cer- 
tain number of paintings are still attributed to him. Among these 
is the autumn squall in the mountain, a wash-drawing on paper 
in the Kawasaki Shozo collection, in Kobe, a romantic landscape 
in which the violence of the elements bends the trees and tosses 
their branches about, blowing their leaves towards the torrent. 68 
There is a marked difference between the sharp drawing of the 
Ma (every pine-needle stands out) and the fluent, ink-splash 
technique of Hsia Kuei. Another example of Hsia Kuei's manner 
is the summer landscape, a wash-drawing on silk, in the Iwasaki 
Koyata collection in Tokyo. It is a water scene, showing a bay 
or river with a boat moored behind a point of land. On the right, 
a few water grasses, a few trees indicated by ink dots. Half seen 
in the background, above the mist, a horizon of mountains. There 
is absolute mastery of technique, an impression of immensity 
in the expanse of water, and the sweep of the distant chain 
of mountains. Water and light are blended, in contrast to the 
ink strokes and dots of the foreground. 69 It is interesting to com- 
pare such works by Hsia Kuei with certain Japanese landscapes 
by Sesshu, as we were invited to do in Odawara, at the Marquis 
Asano's residence. 70 

Mention should also be made of a handscroll in a similar 


Siren, Op. cit., 11, p. 83, pi. 62. 

n Tajima and Omura, Op. cit., viii, pi. 55. Siren. Op. cit., pi. 67. 

• Ibid, pi. 56. William Conn, Op. cit., pi. 93. And, likewise attributed to 
Hsia Kuei, the hand-scroll of the Ten Thousand Li of the Long River', ibid, 
pis. 94-96. 

TO See also Robert Paine, Hsia Kuei and Motonobu, Revue des Arts Asia- 
tiques, ix, 1935, p. 154. 

70. Ch'iu Ying {active c. 1522-1560) : Saying Farewell at Hsiin-yang. 
(detail). Color on paper. Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 

■■ »*Af a ^ ^f^F.i'jJ* 


: V - - .> 

4*^..:; ■&& 

■■*■'. v.- ""'-C'.*-'' 

-*r. r 

'V/-.- ,; >V; 

■ «■ 

■?,' ■' :■ 


y-^-.y, ,:^m^:^W: 

* ' *? f* 

' ■"'..> 

.-/■.. J-4. rl ." „■ 

. ' 1 

.' : .v.' 

■* f 

► -\t£ 



,-—■■ \sF 


71. Above: Win Ching-mhig (1470-1559): Cypress and Weathered 
Rocks. Ink on paper. Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas City. 
Below: CWin Tao-fu (1483-1544): Lohis (detail). Color on 
paper. Nelson Gallery of Art ; Kansas City. 


manner in the Akaboshi Tetsuma collection in Tokyo, repres- 
enting a river viewed from a height upstream, with its windings 
and the singing, bright flow of its waters, while under a tree 
on a hummock a traveller is seated, taking in the cool freshness 
of the landscape. 71 In contrast to these impressions of water and 
light, certain scrolls in the Mayeda Toshimoto collection display 
romantic trees with prodigious personalities, trees that struggle 
and dominate with their twists, their angularities and their gnar- 
led humps, and their branches that are gestures of appeal or 
of menace. 72 This eerie play of dark masses, shaken by wild 
storms, entirely dispels the impression of airiness, the sense of 
limitless space, conveyed by previous Sung masters. 

Let us note also that while Hsia Kuei.excelled in panoramas, 
he was also skilled in composing small pictures of compelling 
intimacy, like the often reproduced winter landscape of the 
Shimitsu collection, Kyoto: shiveringly clustered in the depths 
of a valley surrounded by lines of snowy mountains, on the edge 
of an indistinct body of water, between two tall bare trees whose 
twigs stand out black against the white background, a few snow- 
covered huts. 78 An equally penetrating sense of melancholy is 
conveyed by a similar fan, in the Boston Museum, evoking impres- 
sions of autumn, attributed to the painter Liu Sung-nien {circa 
1170-1230). 74 

Apart from these artists gravitating round the imperial aca- 
demy, Hangchow in the Sung period produced several painters 
of genius inspired by the contemplative Buddhism of the Ch'an 
school. Most of them led a monastic life in the hermitages of 
this sect on the heights west of Hangchow, between the West 

n Tajima and Omura, Op. cit., vm, pi. 59. 

n Ibid, pis. 62-64. 

78 E. Grosse, Le lavis en Extrime-Orient, pi. 10. 

M 'A rocky promontory with old maples around a pavilion in the foreground; 
wide expanse of water dissolving into the mist, and on the opposite side, some 
projecting rocks with leafy trees and bamboos bending in the wind*. Siren, History 
of Early Chinese Painting, n, p. 89, pi. 70. 


Lake (Hsi-hu) and the mountains of the Chekiang interior. Such 
a one was Liang K'ai who, after having been decorated with the 
'golden girdle' of the imperial academy about 1202-1204, retired 
to a monastery. 

Liang K'ai is a virtuoso of the brush, which he manipulates 
with an imaginative sense and an airy nonchalance that are 
breathtaking. Such qualities were of the very kind to be fostered 
by the Ch'an doctrine, the nature of which, with its stress on 'the 
spontaneous act' and the irrational, was frankly non-conformist 
and 'surrealist', so that its converts were not without that secret 
delight in scandalizing ordinary people experienced by those who 
feel themselves to be above the ordinary. The disciple of Ch'an, 
the dhyanist, was encouraged not to hesitate to push metaphysical 
freedom to the point of expressing it in actions that the profane 
would regard as sheer eccentricity. One has only to read, in this 
connection, the biographies of the Fathers of the dJbyana.™ Such 
is in fact the spirit that animates the portraits attributed to 
Liang K'ai's brush— portraits of Buddhist saints (the arhat of the 
Abe collection; in the Matsudaira collection, the patriarch Hui- 
neng gleefully tearing up a sutra, a Buddhist sacred text), or por- 
traits of Chinese poets (the Su Tung-po in the same Matsudaira 
collection). 76 

Liang K'ai's masterpiece is a picture of Sakyamuni as an 
ascetic, standing leaning on his stick near a stream, in a strange 
landscape of steep mountains (in the Count Sakai Tadamichi col- 
lection, Tokyo). The Blessed One is represented at the moment 
when, after a period of terrible mortifications, he is on his way 
to the Bodhi Tree where he will receive the Illumination that 
is to save the world. The intensity of thought, the violence of his 
meditation, are expressed with a kind of bitter spirituality in this 

15 See Suzuki, Essays in Zen Buddhism, First Series, in the Collected Series, 
London, 1950, pp. 174-226, and Second Series, pp. 212 ff. Also Waley, Zen 
Buddhism in relation to art, London, 1922, p. 22. 

w Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, pis. 77 and 78. On Liang K'ai, 
see Otto Kummel, in Ostantische Zeitschift, 1929, p. 206. 


hirsute, almost savage face. This inner violence, as much as the 
wind that blows through the mountain gorge, animates the strange 
folds of the sparse garment and has its counterpart in the convul- 
sed roots of a bare tree-trunk, in some twisted branches, and in 
the scrub that bends towards the ascetic or crawls at his feet like 
some weird beast 77 

We come, finally, to the greatest of all these painters, Mu-ch'i. 

Mu-ch'i, according to tradition, came (about 1215?) from 
Southwest China to settle near Hangchow in a Ch'an monastery 
or hermitage situated on the shores of the West Lake (Hsi-hu). 
His production is presumed to have been at its peak about 1250- 
1270. 78 Towards the end of the Sung dynasty he incurred the 
displeasure of the public authorities, was disgraced and fled to 
Szechwan. Upon the accession of the Yuan he returned to Hang- 
chow and it was then that he finally became a Ch'an monk. 79 
If the paintings that are attached to his name are really by him, 
we are indebted to him for superhuman visions of fabulous ani- 
mals as well as of divine beings. How powerful, for example, is 
the evocation of the she-monkey at the Daitokuji in Kyoto, clutch- 
ing her little one in her arms, perched with him on a knotty 
branch suspended in the void, at the top of a pine-tree; for the 
presence of the two shivering — and so human! — creatures trans- 
ports us at once to the crest of the forests, above easily-imagined 
immensities, above a world that may be full of terror. 80 At the 
Daitokuji too, we come upon the most prodigious dragon that 
the Chinese imagination has ever given birth to. 81 The monster, 
with its awesome muzzle, long crustacean's tentacles, demon's 
horns and fiery eyes whose gaze has the lambent gleam of 
lightning, is revealed to us in the chiaroscuro of a storm-cloud. 

n Tajima and Omura, Op. cit., Vol. K, pi. 70. 
n On Mu-ch'i, see Waley, Zen Buddhism..., p. 22. 

79 Taro Kotakane, Some Materials Newly Discovered on the Life of Mu- 
ch'i, Bulletin of Eastern Art, Tokyo, no. 21, 1941, p. 16. 

* Tajima and Omura, Op. cit. 9 vol. IX, pi. 85. Siren, Op. cit., II, pi. 81. 

* Tajima and Omura, Op. cit ty vol. IX, pi. 90. 


All the indeterminate menace of the unknowable seems to be 
concentrated in this bestial yet divine mask. This, however, is 
a wholly western interpretation, for we know that in the Chinese 
view the dragon symbolizes divine power, the spiritual urge. 
Physical strength — animality — is represented, in a diptych with 
the dragon, by a tiger of equal power. 

It is not devoid of interest to note that the Ch'an artist here 
dedicated his genius to magnifying the most ancient Chinese 
conceptions, those of the old pre-Confucian mythologies inherited 
by Taoism. The fact is that unwittingly the Ch'an had assimilated 
the spirit of Taoism. It was like a 'Buddhist Taoism*. Indeed, 
one of the most famous paintings of the Iwasaki collection re- 
minds us of some page or other in the book of Chuang-tzu. 82 
Unforgettable is the impression made by the Ch'an ascetic ab- 
sorbed in ecstasy on a rocky ledge overhanging the void, at 
whose feet float mists that seem to support him. A fearful 
serpent winds round his waist, resting a menacing head on the 
saint's knees, seeking to fascinate him with the livid flash of 
its stare. But the saint is totally unconcerned, and it is the silent 
power of his mental concentration, the force of the dhyanic 
ecstasy, that master the serpent. The face of the ascetic, both 
fierce and ecstatic, terrible and illuminated by a transcendent 
gentleness, expresses a matchless grandeur. 

But Mu-ch'i, intensely Ch'an as he here shows himself, also 
embraces another form of Buddhism, the religion of tenderness 
incarnated in Avalokitesvara and Amitabha. 

The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, who represents a kind of 
Buddhist Providence, was in the process of undergoing, with 
the assumption of the features of Kuan-yin-wiih-the-white- 
garments (Po-i Kuan-yin), a feminine incarnation. 83 And it is 

* Tajima and Omura, Op. cit. 9 vol. K, pis. 87-88. Siren, Op. cit., vol. n, 
pi. 82. The Ch'an ascetic of this painting was formerly designated as the arbat 

88 We may recall, with Maspero, that the type of the Kuan-yin with white 
garments is linked to the apparitions and miracles that occurred on the island 


in fact the goddess Kuan-yin whom Mu-ch'i immortalizes for 
us in the famous painting of the Daitokuji in Kyoto, a white 
and majestic figure with a meditative expression, both gentle 
and grave, seated on a rock, at the foot of a sheer mountain wall, 
with a river or lake at her feet and water vapours floating 
around her. 84 

Mu-chTs ambition seems indeed to have been nothing less 
than to embrace all nature — nature conceived in the Ch'an 
manner (in the manner also of the Tien-t'ai), as expressing the 
very soul of the cosmos. Although we still lack positive proof 
of this, Mu-ch'i is traditionally considered to be the author of 
two scrolls having as their subject 'the eight landscapes of the 
Hsiao and the Hsiang', rivers that flow into lake Tung-t'ing. These 
paintings are today scattered among various Japanese collections. 85 
Of the first scroll (the smaller one) there are four fragments: 
The Autumn Moon', in the Tokugawa collection; 'Night Rain' 
in the Baron Masuda collection; 'Evening Bells' in the Count 
Masuda collection; 'Evening of Snow' in the Suenobu collection. 
Of the large scroll four other fragments remain: 'The Return 
of the Boats on Lake Tung-t'ing', in the Matsudaira collection; 
'Evening Bells', formerly in the Tokugawa collection, now in 
the Mayeda collection; 'Sunset on a Fishing Village', in the Nezu 
collection; 'Wild Geese Alighting', formerly in the Matsudaira 
collection, now in the Ishino collection. 86 The most famous of 

of P*u-t'o (an island of the Chu-san archipelago, off Chekiang). The goddess had 
appeared there as early as 847; in 858 the Japanese monk Egaku, as a result of 
a fresh miracle, had founded a temple there to Kuan-yin, and in 916 a great 
monastery had been built to house a statue of Kuan-yin, the work of the monk 
Chi-chung. Several Kuan-yins-with-white-garments are mentioned among the works 
of the painters of the Five Dynasties. 

* Tajima and Omura, Op. cit., vol. ix, pi. 84. Siren. Op. cit., vol. 11, pi. 80. 

* Yukio Yashiro, On the Eight Scenic Views of Hsiao-Hsiang by Mu-ch'i, 
Bulletin of Eastern Art, No. 21, Tokyo, 1941. 

* For the names of the present owners and for the grouping of the paintings 
we here rely on Mr. Yashiro (article quoted above), supplementing Dr. Siren. 
Mr. Yashiro's valuable article reproduces six of the eight paintings. 


these views is the one in the Matsudaira collection, the return 
of the fishing boats at evening on the lake. The boats can barely 
be made out. The whole landscape is composed of water, of 
mist-laden air, of space, of indistinct distances. On the horizon 
mountains progressively vanish in the mist. In the left foreground 
a fishing village, its outlines blurred, is half hidden between a 
clump of trees and the shore, so completely are man and his 
works here swallowed up in immensity. 'The rest of the picture', 
says Sir&i, 'is free expanse; there is no foreground, no back- 
ground, simply open space. The only support that the eye can 
find here are two small sailing boats which are more felt than 
seen'. 87 

Of all the landscapists, Mu-ch'i was the greatest visionary. 
Siren sums this up when he says: 'He painted landscapes which 
are simply fragments of the universe, formulae for his visionary 
ideas of unlimited space and soundless harmony'. 

In the T'ang period the portrait, insofar as the Sino- Japanese 
texts enable us to reconstruct it, had been conceived as an attempt 
to 'transmit the spirit* (ch'uan-shen) of the model, roughly to 
bring out the essential character, to capture the individuality of 
the subject (in particular by the drawing of the lines of the 
mouth), while sacrificing all secondary details. To this end, as 
Serge Elisseeff has well shown, portraitists did not hesitate to 
'represent the various parts of the face at different moments, 
but these moments were so closely related that the whole re- 
mained harmonious*. This manner — the ch'uan-shen — was to 
exert a lasting influence on later Japanese portrait-painting, but 
in China in the Sung period, under the influences of Ch'an Bud- 
dhism, we see Chinese portraits more concerned with details, 
or more exactly 'with a better rendering of the whole by giving 
more details*. It was at this point that two new treatments ap- 
peared: 'The portrait in which the model is represented fully, 

* Sirfn, Op. at., n, p. 102, pi. 83. Tajima and Omura, Op. r//., DC, pi. 94. 
William Conn, Chinese Painting, pi. 107. 


usually seated, and the bust portrait (ting-hsiang) which was 
created by the Ch'an monks'. Of this order are the portraits of 
arhat or lo-han, treated 'diagonally', with the subject shown at 
an angle, foreshortened — a 'romantic' composition of very 
powerful effect. 88 

* * * 

The influence of Ch'an teaching likewise made itself felt 
in the painting of flowers. The imperial academy, first in K'ai- 
f eng, then in Hangchow, had specialized in 'an ornamental and 
minutely naturalistic kind of flower painting' with a predilection 
for peonies, hibiscus and lotus. The Ch'an painters aimed to 
express 'the life and spiritual significance of flowers rather than 
their outward beauty'. Their favourite themes were plum blos- 
soms — 'messengers of spring'— vines, orchids and narcissus. 89 
A whole literature was even developed around these motifs. 
In his treatise on the philosophy of the flowering plum tree (Hua 
kuang met p'u) the monk Chung Jen (late eleventh century) 
went so far as to see in this theme the representation of the 
universe itself. As for the bamboo, by its rectitude, its upward 
thrust, the inner emptiness of its hollow stems, it symbolized 
the whole Buddhist ideal. To devote oneself to the painting of 
the bamboo was an ascetic exercise paving the way to a state 
of spirituality. 

* * * 

We may note that the mysticism of the Sung period, whether 
Ch'an or Taoist, did not confine itself to philosophic speculation 
and to art. About 1133, a Buddhist priest of Soochow, named 
Mao Tzu-yuan, founded the society of the White Lotus (Pat-lien 

* Serge Elisseeff, Notes sur le portrait en Extreme-Orient, Etudes dorien- 
tdisme publiies par le Musie Guimet a la mhnohre de Raymonds Linossier, vol. i, 
pp. 16>202 (Paris, 1933). 

* Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, vol. n, p. 109. 


chiao). This was a secret society, not to be confused with the 
former sect of the same name (Pat-lien tsung), founded, we may 
remember, about the year 400. 90 The first Lotus sect had restricted 
itself to the religious field. The eminent leaders who had headed 
it — Tan-luan (died about 600) under the Sui, Tao-ch'ao (died 
about 645) under the T'ang — had been pure mystics, and it was 
in the light of this that the T'ang emperor Kao-tsung (650-683) 
had given his full favour to Amidism. The new society, on the 
other hand, as founded by 'the Master of the Lotus Mao Tzu- 
yiian, at once evinced tendencies that were so clearly political 
and subversive that the goyernment banished Mao. We know, 
moreover, that 'the Master of the Lotus' had little use for of- 
ficial Buddhism. Once outlawed, the Society of the White Lotus 
went underground. It was to reappear periodically and it was 
associations claiming to stem from it or from similar groups that 
subsequently were to foment the insurrection of 1351 (which in 
a brief space of time brought about the downfall of the Mongol 
dynasty) that were to shake the throne of the Ming (1622), stir 
up the revolt against the Manchu emperor Ch'ien-lung (1793) 
and come close to carrying out the assassination of emperor Chia- 
ch'ing (1813). This corrosive activity of the secret societies from 
the Sung to the Manchus, this persistence of revolutionary agita- 
tion throughout the centuries, are facts that must not be forgotten 
if we wish to understand the hidden springs of Chinese history. 

It is worth calling attention to the appearance of this move- 
ment during the Sung period. 

No less interesting to note, under the heading of the age of 
the Sung, is the Buddhist-Taoist complex revealed by such eso- 
teric social manifestations as the Pai-lien chiao. The origin of 
this secret society seems by its very name— the White Lotus— to 
be Amidist, and the revolt of 1351 that was to stem from it was 
carried out in the name of Buddhist messianism: the insurgents 

90 C£. Wieger, Histoire des croyances, 1917, p. 643. Idem, Textes historiques, 
vol. H, pp. 1718, 1734. B. Favre, Us sociitis seethes en Chine, Ffcris, 1933, p. 80. 

* * 

4. * 

* iff 

.-*• ? -?h *. a* ^ 

5 ^ * £# 5 S * 

*- ft * 

i ^ 




72. Wang Hui (1632-1717): Bamboo Grove and Distant Mountains. 
Ink on paper. Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Col- 

.»' •'(*•' 


«» - 




l j^. 


It ' J\ 







^ <Tr 

73. Tao-chi (1630-1707): Landscape. Color on paper. Museum of 
Fine Arts, Boston. 


of 1351 were 'adventists' who awaited the coming of the Bodhi- 
sattva Maitreya. A great number of magic practices, fumiga- 
tions, etc., however, stem from Taoism, and one of the later 
offshoots of the White Lotus was to be the brotherhood of the 
'Eight Trigrams' (Pa-kud) in the seventeenth century, obviously 
originating from Taoism. 01 

The Buddhist-Taoist admixture in which the Taoist spirit 
predominated amid late Mahayana, Amidism and Maitreyanism, 
the imperceptible invasion of Buddhist brains by Taoist concep- 
tions, these represent — like the painting of Hangchow and for 
the same reasons — one of the characteristic features of the Sung 

* * * 

The sculpture of the Sung period is represented in great part 
by a Buddhist statuary due less to the Chinese dynasty of that 
name than to the Tartar dynasties that ruled the North, the 
Ch'i-tan and especially the Chin, whose capital was Peking— the 
former from 936 to 1122, the latter from 1122 to 1215. The Chin 
in particular strongly marked this sculpture with their stamp. 
There was certainly among these Tartar occupants, now that 
they were becoming Sinicized, a meritorious desire, a willingness 
to restore the Buddhist sanctuaries that had been destroyed by 
the invasions. In this respect the Chin period represents a kind 
of Renaissance in the field of religious sculpture, but a renaissance 
that immediately turns to the baroque, to borrow Siren's term, 
in its statues of marble (originating in large part in Hopei) or 
of polychrome-painted wood. 

The Kuan-yins, which constitute the main theme of this stat- 
uary, enlighten us as to the. iconographic transformation that 
this divinity was then undergoing. Whether standing or in the 
attitude of maharajalila (or 'royal ease'), in which the right arm 

81 B. Favre, Op. cit., p. 99. 


rests on the lifted right knee while the left leg hangs down to 
reach the ground, the former Bodhisattva, in his various ritual 
poses, is in process of becoming a goddess, and the goddess is 
a beauty of imposing stance and full, voluptuous form which 
shows through the arrangement of scarves, a plump, developed 
torso and a belly with generous curves, — a bejewelled and rather 
ripe 'prima donna' with the majestic indolence of a sultana. 92 
This is an aesthetic conception similar to that which is revealed 
to us by the mural paintings of the same region under the Tartar 

Particularly striking is the Tartar continuity maintained 
around Peking throughout the Sung period, both under the 
Ch'i-tan and under the Chin. Alongside the intellectual, idealistic 
and impressionist art of the Sung, an entirely different spirit 
reigned in the art of the two Tartar dynasties, a spirit that 
harked back to the lush sculpture and the pompous mural paint- 
ings of late Tang. A contrast in aesthetic conceptions, this, that 
discloses racial dissimilarities. We must remember that under 
three successive dynasties (Ch'i-tan, then Chin, then Mongols), 
Peking remained Tartar from 936 to 1368. The history of art 
cannot but bear the trace of this occupation of four hundred and 
thirty-two years. 

However this may be, the Buddhist piety of these Tartar 
dynasties is quite remarkable and contrasts with the difficulties 
that Buddhism always came up against, under purely Chinese 
dynasties, from official Confucianism as well as from Taoism. 98 

n Cf . Siren, Chinese Sculptures of the Sung, Iiao and Chin Dynasties, 
b.m.f.e.a. 14, pp. 45-64. Idem, A Chinese Temple and its Plastic Decoration of 
the Twelfth Century, Etudes a* orientalisms publiies par le Musie Gurnet..., 
Paris, 1932, pp. 499-505 (sculptures of the temple Tsia-hua-yin ssu near Ta-t'ung, 
in Shansi, built in 1037 under' the Gh'i-tan, burned in 1119 and rebuilt in 1140 
under the Chin king Ho-lo-ma). See Hugo Munsterberg, Zum Problem der 
weiblichen Kuan-yin, Artibus Asiae, ix, 1946, p. 316. 

M We know, for example, that the Ch'i-tan king Yelu Hung-chi, alias Tao- 
tsung (1055-1101) copied religious texts on the Bodhisattvas in gold ink with 
his own hand. 


The consideration shown by the Tartar dynasties for the great 
Indian religion manifested itself particularly in the field of ar- 
chitecture. From the Ch'i-tan or Liao period we might mention 
the elegant octagonal brick pagoda of Ting-chou (Hopei) dated 
1001-1053, 94 as well as the no less elegant Nan-t'a pagoda in 
Fang-shan-hsien (also in Hopei), dated 1117; 95 and from the 
Chin period the famous thirteen-story pagoda of Pai-ma-ssu (the 
White Horse Pagoda), near Lo-yang, rebuilt in 1175, 96 as well 
as the Ch'ing-ta pagoda of the Lin-chi-ssu at Cheng-ting, dated 
1185. 97 

Finally, it was the Chin rulers — thus justifying their name of 
'Gold' kings— who first made their Forbidden City, in Peking, 
one of the wonders of Asia. 08 While nothing remains of this 
creation of theirs, destroyed in 1215 by Gengis-Khan,the Mongols 
themselves— the 'Yuan— in the reign of Kublai, and later the 
Ming, in the reign of Yung-lo, seem merely to have carried on 
their programme. 

We must likewise go back to the Chin period in North China 
(1125-1234) for the origin of the style of the Buddhist and 
Taoist mural paintings from southern Shansi that continued into 
the Yiian period, in particular the paintings of the Kuang-sheng- 
ssu near Chao-ch'eng, and of the Hsing-hua-ssu near P c ing-yang 
that are now in the museums of Toronto, Philadelphia and Kansas 
City." These are for the most part heavenly processions, well 
ordered, solemn, even pompous, but rather cold and not to be 

•* Sir£n, History of Early Chinese Art, vol. iv, Architecture, pi. 78. 
85 Idem, ibid, pi. 76. 

* Idem, ibid, pi. 69. 

* Idem, ibid, pi. 80. 

M See G. N. Kates, A New Date for the Origins of the Forbidden City, 
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 1942, p. 180. 

* Cf . Helen Fernald, Museum Journal, University of Pennsylvania, Phila- 
delphia, Sept. 1926 and June 1928. W. C White, Chinese Temple Frescoes, 
Royal Ontario Museum, no. 12, 1937. Idem, Chinese Temple Frescoes, a Study 
of Three WalUPaintings of the Thirteenth Century, Toronto, 1940. Laurence 
Sickman, Notes on Later Chinese Buddhist Art, Parnassus, xx, 4, p. 1}. 


compared with the "primitives * of Tunhuang. They present great 
stylistic analogies with wood sculptures of the end of Chin period, 
dated 1195. 100 

Two great Taoist 'frescoes', found in Shansi and now in the 
Toronto Museum, representing stellar or terrestrial divinities (the 
Lord of the Great Bear or of the Small Bear, the Seven Stars, 
the Emperor of Heaven, the Empress of Earth, the gods of the 
Five Planets, etc.) are probably of the twelfth century. Other 
mural paintings of the P'ing-yang region may date from 1238 (?), 
that is to say from a period when the Mongols had replaced the 
Chin as masters of Shansi, but still followed the tradition of their 

Foreign influences make themselves felt at about the same 
period in the textile arts. T'ang China had manufactured silk 
tapestries, included under the general denomination of chih- 
ch'eng or chin (brocades) which we know well from the examples 
in the Shoso-in at Nara. But it is not until Sung times that the 
term k'o-ssu appears. Its etymology must, it seems, be sought 
in the Persian word qazz 9 which designates silks in general. We 
know, in fact, that the Uighur, a Turkish people then established 
in the northeast of present-day Sinkiang, in Turfan, Karashar 
and Kucha, manufactured multicoloured silk rugs ('in five col- 
ours') which were probably influenced by the Iranian technique 
and must in turn have influenced the k'o-ssu of the Northern 
Sung, in the K'ai-feng period. 101 

We should not forget, moreover, that in the following period, 
from 1134 to 1211, we see established in Eastern Turkestan a 


W. C. White, Op. cit., pp. 42-45, fig. 8. 

Schuyler Cammann, Origin of Chinese k'o-ssu Tapestry, Artibus Asiae, 
xi, p. 90. a. Jean Pierre Dubosc, Contribution a l'ftude des tapisseries d'epoque 
Song, ibid* p. 73. Bernard Vuilleumier, Exposition des tapisseries et tapis de la 
Chine (VHe-XIXe siecles), Musee des Gobelins, April-May, 1936, 


branch of the Ch'i-tan or Khitai, the Kara-Khitai as they were 
called, who after being chased out of Peking by the Chin had 
gone and founded an unexpected empire in the basins of the 
Hi and Chou rivers in Kashgaria. 102 There can be no doubt that 
this people, who at the very gates of the Iranian world had re- 
mained Buddhist and Chinese in culture, helped to maintain 
those relations between Iran and China to which the history of 
the k'o-ssu bears witness. We may note, during the same period 
and certainly with the Kara-Khitai as intermediaries, the inverse 
influence that Sung China exerted on Persian pottery. Thus 
among the bowls of the late twelfth century or the first twenty 
years of the thirteenth discovered since 1945 in Gurgan (Kho- 
rassan), we find real Persian imitations, in milky white, snow 
white, etc., of the ju, kuan, celadons and other specialties of 
Sung ceramics. 108 The fact that the town of Gurgan, which had 
until then been an integral part of the empire of the Khwarezm- 
shahs, was destroyed by Gengis-Khan's Mongols in 1220, fur- 
nishes us with indubitable proof of the artistic exchanges be- 
tween the shahs of Khwarezm, of Persian culture, and their im- 
mediate neighbours the Kara-Khitai, of Chinese culture. 

* * * 

The 'Pottery of the Sung 

Sung pottery c is rightly considered the most beautiful and the 
most perfect of all time*. 'Advances in technique, and the rigor- 
ous selection of pastes and glazes, then made it possible to 
create wares with thick, smooth glazes in many subdued tints. 
These are in the main highly vitrified stonewares or translucent 

*" On the Kara-Khitai, see K. A. Wittfogel and Feng Chia-Sheng, History 
of Chinese Society JJao 9 pp. 619-674. 

*** Ren6 Grousset, I/exposition iranienne du Musee Cernuschi, Oriental 
Art, 1^48, p. 110. Mehdi Bahrami, Gurgan Faiences, Cairo, 1949, p. 41, 


porcelains'. Moreover, 'the forms differ from those of the Tang 
by their simplicity. The contour of the Tang vases, interrupted 
at the neck and at the base, give way to continuous and harmo- 
nious curves'. 104 

The main categories of Sung pottery are the following: 105 

1. ]u. The pottery so named is presumed to have been 
manufactured about 1100-1126 in the imperial palace of K'ai- 
feng by potters of the town of Ju Chou, likewise in Ho-nan. 
These pieces are remarkable for their thick glaze, especially in 
lavender-blue or bluish grey, sometimes slate blue, greenish blue 
or slate grey. 106 

2. Kuan. That is to say 'official' ware, manufactured first 
in K'ai-feng, then, after the Chin invasion of 1127, withdrawn 
to Hangchow, where the imperial potters established themselves 
chiefly in the Ch u-tan, the 'Altar of Heaven', quarter, of this 
city. This pottery is often very thin, the glaze generally crackled, 
in greenish grey, bluish, grey, bluish grey, slate grey, dove grey, 
pinkish grey, light iron-grey and lavender blue tints. Kuan pieces 
are very difficult to distinguish from the ko 9 of similar hues and 
likewise crackled. At first sight, in an exhibition — that of Bur- 
lington House (1935) and that of the Orangerie (1937) for 
example — the kuan crackling might at times seem to form a 
looser 'cobweb', and the ko crackling a closer mesh; the bluish 

** Guimet Museum, fascicule III, Ciramique cbinoise. Guide abrigi de la 
Collection Grandidier, 1950 (by Madeleine David), p. 126. 

385 The basic works on Chinese pottery in general, and Sung in particular, 
are still those of: Hobson, Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, 2 vol., 1915. Hether- 
ington, Early Ceramic Wares of China, 1922; Hobson, Catalogue of the Eumor- 
fopoulos Collection, Ceramic, vols. 11 and in, 1926; Idem, Catalogue of the 
Collection of Sir Percival David, 1934; Georges Salles, Arts de la Chine ancienne, 
Musee de rOrangerie, 1937 (ciramique par Michel Calmann, pp. 97-223); Mad- 
eleine David, Musie Guimet, . Guide, III, Ciramique chinoise, 1950; Sherman 
Lee, Sung Ceramics in the Light of Recent Japanese Research, Artibus Asiae, 
xi, 1948, p. 165; Koyama, The Story of Old Chinese Ceramics-, Sir Herbert 
Ingram, New Approach to the Early Chinese Ceramics, Oriental Art, 1948, p. 17. 

308 Examples of colour in Hobson, Catalogue of the Eumorfopoulos Collection, 
vol. 11, pis. 5, 8, 11. 


shades would seem to predominate in the kuan y the pale greys 
in the ko. Actually, these are but first impressions, and the 
exceptions to any such criteria would be likely quickly to in- 
validate them. 107 

3. Ting. This pottery was manufactured in the kilns of 
Ting-yao, the site of which was recently identified by Koyama 
near the village of Chien-tzu-ts un in the district of Ting-hsien, 
central Hopei. 108 'The most perfect ting have a white body of 
fine, close grain, often translucent; they are coated with an ivory 
white glaze that at times forms droplets on the outside of the 
bowls and cups. The base is generally glazed; the upper rim, 
which is bare, is often concealed by a metal ring. The colour 
ranges from pai-ting (ivory white) to fen-ting (floury white) and 
t'u-ting (earth white)'. 100 Alternatively, the glazes may be de- 
scribed as ivory, cream, light bistre, beige-white, white-bistre, 
beige, and chamois. Ornamentation is generally incised. Michel 
Calmann, a specialist well qualified to pronounce judgment, re- 
gards ting as 'the best ceramic ware of any country and of any 
time. 110 

Ting may be compared with the so-called Chii-lu-hsien ware, 
which has a thick creamy white glaze. Chu-lu-hsien, a locality 
situated in the south of Hopei, was destroyed by a flood in 
1108. 111 

In 1127, because of the Chin invasion, the ting potters fell 
back to Chi-chou in Kiangsi. In these tings of Kiangsi, dating 
from the Hangchow Sung, the incised d&or is often replaced 
by moulded designs. 

307 Examples of kuan and ko, idem, ibid, vol. 11, pis. 16, 19, 20. 

** Koyama, Discovery of the Ruins of Tingyao, Bulletin of Eastern Art, 
No. 23-24, Tokyo, 1941. 

** M. David, Op. cit. 9 p. 128. Examples in Hobson, Eumorfopoulos Cata- 
logue, vol. in, pis. 31, 33, etc. 

1W G. Salles, Arts..., p. 175. 

131 But perhaps the so-called Chu-lu-hsien pieces came from the Tzu-chou 
kilns about which we shall presently have something to say. 


4. Ying-ctiing, or 'cloudy blue, called light-coloured 
group' by Michel Calmann. These pieces are related to the ting, 
but have a more vitrified glaze with a high gloss. They were 
manufactured at Ching-te-chen (Kiangsi) and at Te-hua (Fu- 
kien). Exported ying-cb'ing has been found at places ranging 
from Korea to Fostat, in Egypt. The glaze is pale blue, bluish, 
bluish white, grey-blue, cream, etc., often with flower designs. 

5. Celadons (Chinese: ctiing-tzu\ Japanese: sei-ji). The 
old celadons 'of Yiieh', in Chekiang, of which we have already 
spoken in connection with the Five Dynasties, continued to be 
improved under the Sung, and gave rise, outside of China, to 
the Korean celadons (which have their own characteristic hues, 
ranging from blue-grey to apple-green, but with a predominance 
of greys with a very soft glaze. 112 But the finest celadons came 
from the workshops of Lung-ch'uan (in southwestern Chekiang). 
'The Lung-ch'uan pieces can be distinguished from those of 
Yiieh by their fresher tint of green. The thick, smooth glaze 
ranges from olive green to bright green'. 118 Certain particularly 
fine pieces are known by the name kinuta, a Japanese term which 
indicates their superior quality. 114 There was a considerable 
export of Lung-ch'iian celadons to Japan, Indochina, Irak, etc. 

Tradition has singled out two potters, brothers, of the Chang 
family, as being the outstanding masters of Lung-dittan. The 
"younger-brother", which in Chinese is it, worked in the local' 
tradition. The "elder-brother", which in Chinese is ko, is sup- 
posed to have specialized in producing crackled ware: hence the 
name of ko for this category of pieces'. 115 As we have seen, these 

10 George J. Lee, On the Relations of the Early Korai Celadons to the 
Chinese Ware of Yiieh, Bulletin of Far Eastern Ceramic, Nov. 1948, pp. 20-25. 
Musie Cernuscbi. Exposition cPArt Corien (1946). Notes sur Vhistoire de I' art 
de la Cor&e, by Madeleine David, p. 19. Langdon Warner, Korai Celadons in 
America, Eastern Art, n, 1930. 

m Madeleine David, Guide du Musee Guimet, in, p. 129. 

mn * Examples in Hobson, Eumorfopoulos Catalogue, vol. n, pis. 29, 31. 
Michel Calmann, Catalogue de VOrangerie, 1937, p. 141. 


ft '-':, -y 

74. Chu Ta (1626-c. 1705): Landscape after Kuo Chung-shu. Ink on 
paper. Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Collection. 

75. Kuati-yin, white porcelain. Reign ofK'ang-hsi (1662-1722). Victoria 
and Albert Museum, London. 


ko crackled wares, with glazes that are slate, blue-tinged grey, 
green-hued, olive grey, green-grey, water-green, etc., are diffi- 
cult to distinguish from the kuan crackled ware. Like the latter, 
they show extreme delicacy of workmanship. 

There were also celadon workshops in North China at the 
time when those of Lung-ch uan were active. One of these was 
discovered in 1931 at Ju-hsien (Honan) by the Japanese pro- 
fessor Harada. These Northern celadons have a glaze, verging 
on olive-green, which is darker than those of Lung-ch'uan. 118 
Their colour somewhat relates them to the Korean celadons which 
veer towards grey. 

6. Chun. This ware derives its name from the Chiin-chou 
workshops, to the southwest of K'ai-feng (Honan). The colours 
range from pale blue or lavender blue to tourquoise shades, with 
red or purple, violet or aubergine splashes. Hence the appellation 
'moonlight'. 117 

7. Cbien. This pottery takes its name from the locality 
of Chien-ning, in the north of Fukien, according to an iden- 
tification of the site suggested by J. S. Plumer. 118 It is 'coated 
with a thick brown glaze, with golden or silvery hare's fur or 
partridge feather glints. The rim is fitted with a metal ring'. 
The 'hare's fur' glaze is often known by its Japanese name 
temmoku (in Chinese: t'u-mao). 11 * 

8. Tzu-cbou. A ceramic ware so called from the city of 
the same name, in Hopei. Its decoration is extremely varied. 
'The standard pieces have a decor of flowers or leaf-scrolls, 
painted in black or brown clay on white slip and under a trans- 
parent glaze. The painted designs are sometimes replaced by 

** Examples in Hobson, Op. ciu, vol. II, pis. 49, 51. 

117 Ibid, vol. in, pis. 2, 9, etc. Of. George Lee, Numbered Chun Ware, 
Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society, 1945-1946. 

*" J. M. Plumer, in Illustrated London News, October 26, 1935. Idem, Note 
on the Chien yao (Temmoku), Ostasiatische Zeitscbrift, N.F. xi (xXi), 1935, 

p. 193. 

** Example in Hobson, Op. cit., vol. n, pis. 55 ff. 


incised or carved motifs. Some monumental vases in the Guimet 
Museum have a dark brown glaze, which picks out floral designs 
carved before firing and left in relief on the slip-covered body. 
The Tz u-chou manufacture seems in fact to form a link between 
the ceramic art of the Tang and that of the Ming'. 120 

But this is exceptional. Mrs. Daisy Lion-Goldschmtdt has 
shown how 'foreign to the true genius of China' Tang pottery 
remained, with 'its clashing yellows and greens, its almost crude 
incised d&or, its bold unexpected forms which seem so alien...' 
The Sung pottery, on the other hand, rightly appears to her to 
be 'the most authentic language of the Chinese soul': 'The 
celadons with their shaded greens, the finely engraved white 
waves, the chun with its purple splotches, the small black bowls 
with thick spotted glaze in hare's fur or partridge feather finish 
are outstanding by virtue of the smoothness of the material, its 
lustre and gloss that delight not only the eye but also the touch... 
They represent a summit of achievement in which are expressed 
the civilized refinement, sensibility, and purity of taste of a race 
for whom sobriety is the supreme luxury'. 121 

m M. David, Guide du Music Guimet, III, p. 132. — Examples in Hobson, 
Op. ciu, vol. hi, pis. 46, 49, 56, etc. 

m Daisy Lion-Goldschmidt, Au Musee Guimet, Revue de Paris, Sept. 1950, 
p. 162. 

Chapter Six 

The Yuan 

It took the Mongols some seventy years to conquer China. 
It was in 1205 that Genghi2 Khan began his warlike activities, 
first directed against the provincial kingdom that had been found- 
ed in Kansu about the year one thousand by the Tibetan tribe 
of the Tangut or Hsi-hsia. In 1215 he captured Peking from the 
Chin, of proto-Manchu race. In 1233 his son and successor Ogodai 
seized the last Chin capital, K'ai-feng (in Honan). Then in 1276 
Kublai, Genghiz-Khan's grandson, (who had mounted the Mon- 
gol throne in 1260) seized the capital of the Sung Chinese empire 
the great city of Hangchow (in Chekiang). By 1270 he had 
succeeded in reducing the last centres of resistance around Can- 
ton. All China was now his. From this point on, in his capital 
of Peking, he was a legitimate Chinese emperor (1276-1294) and 
his dynasty, the Yiian dynasty, was to assume its rank in the 
official annals as a sequel to some nineteen native dynasties 

While the Tartars looked upon him as a Mongolian Grand 
Khan, Kublai was determined to become, for the Chinese, an 
authentic Son of Heaven. I have dealt elsewhere with his role 
in world history in these twin capacities. 1 What he did for the 

1 Ren6 Grousset, Figures de proue, p. 285. 


reconstruction of China, after seventy years of war, is related in 
the Yuan-shih, the dynastic history (not compiled until after the 
fall of the dynasty), as well as by Marco Polo. Let us not forget 
(and Marco Polo is there to remind us) that it was Kublai who 
made Peking one of the most beautiful cities of Asia. 2 Owing 
to him, there was no break in the continuity of Chinese civili- 
zation. The Tartar origin of the Yuan did, however, have an 
indirect influence on literature and art. As Odile Kaltenmark 
observes, 'the existence of a court free of certain cultural prejudi- 
ces enabled certain literary tendencies to develop freely'. The 
theatre, e a genre which up to that time had been considered too 
vulgar for scholars to devote themselves to it openly', was at last 
permitted to flourish officially. Born of age-old song-and-dance 
entertainments, the drama at this period included a part that 
was sung — sung by an actor who fulfilled the same role as the 
ancient Greek chorus — and roles (nine in number at this time) 
which were declaimed. Several Yuan dramas (in particular some 
of the plays of Wang Shih-fu) are still famous. The themes are 
often taken from popular historical tales, and are treated with 
great pathos : e.g., the surrender of a beauty of Han times to a 
Hun chief, the love affair and misfortunes of the T'ang emperor 
Hsiian-tsung and the beautiful Yang Kuei-fei, etc. 8 

Emperor Kublai and his descendants (as subsequent Confuc- 
ianist historians did not fail to point out in harsh disapproval) 
proved to be extremely pious Buddhists. The Yuan period accord- 
ingly witnessed a continuation of the tradition of Buddhist 
painting that had such brilliant flowering under the Sung of 
Hangchow. The Ch'an monk Yen-hui who worked under Kublai 
(he was still painting in 1312), left portraits of Buddhist saints 
(arhat — in Chinese, lo-han)* Attributed to him are certain figures 
with a strong flavour of mystical humour', such as the hermits 

* Bretschneider, Recberches archiologiques stir Pi kin, pp. 42-63. 

8 Cf. Tsiang Un-kai, K'ouen K'iu, le tbtetre chtnois and en, Paris, 1932. 

4 Iwasaki collection (Tokyo), Murayama collection (Osaka), etc. 


Te-kuai and Ha-ma in the Chion-in collection, Kyoto, the former, 
in the manner of the Taoist magicians, emitting a small genie 
with his breath, the latter sitting in a thicket, holding flowers in 
one hand, his eyes full of dreaminess and magic power, his toad 
'familiar* clinging to his shoulder and lovingly caressing his hair. 5 
Also, in the Kawasaki ShSzo collection, Kobe, the hermits Han 
Shan and Shih-te laughing, full of monastic malice. 6 

For the Yuan period we may note also four good landscapists : 
Huang Kung-wang who was still painting in 1348, at the age 
of eighty; Wu Chen (1280-1354); Wang Meng (died in 1385); 
and Ni Tsan (1301-1374), the first three being from Chekiang, 
the fourth from Kiangsu, regions that had been the very home of 
Sung painting in the Hangchow period. 7 Their landscapes, or 
the copies that are attributed to them, do indeed form a transition 
between the art of the Sung and that of the early Ming. 

The Yuan conquerors brought back into Chinese painting the 
epic strain that had characterized 1 the Tang: portraits of warriors 
(often amounting to studies of racial types, particularly of authen- 
tic Tartars), portraits of horses, hunting scenes. It should be noted 
that the Tang tradition in this respect had never been lost, and 
this (as we have seen in the discussion of the Ch'i-tan frescoes) 
was outstandingly the case in the North where Tartar dynasties 
had reigned uninterruptedly in Peking since 936. It was, however, 
a true Chinese— Chao Meng-fu (1254-1322)— a prince of the 
Sung imperial family itself, who had gone over to Kublai, who 
best represents this tendency. 8 

The paintings of horses attributed to Chao Meng-fu are in- 

5 Siren, History of Early Chinese Painting, vol. ii, pi. 89. Tajima and Omura, 
Op. cit., vol. DC, pis. 114-117. 
• Ibid., DC, pis. 118-119. 

7 Wu Ti-fen, he dkveloppement de la peinture de paysage en Chine h 
I'Spoque Yuan, Paris, 1932. 

8 Cf. Raphael Petrucci, Tchao Mong-fou, Revue de I'art ancien et moderne, 
Sept. 1913, pp. 173, 184. On Chao Meng-fu and his friend the painter Ch'ien 
Hsuan (who broke with him rather than rally to the Mongols), cf. Percival 
David, Chinese Exhibition, Revue des Arts Asiatiques. Dec. 1935, p. 175. 


numerable, or rather there is hardly a painting of horses that 
is not attributed to him. We reproduce here only some scenes 
from the famous handscroll in tie Henri Riviere collection, re- 
presenting a band of Mongol horsemen at the halt, a horseman 
readjusting the girths of his horse after bringing down an ante- 
lope, another horseman pursuing a runaway horse with a lasso, etc. 
One could scarcely hope for more precise historical documents 
than these portraits, drawn from life, of the cavalry of the 
'World Conquerors'. 

Also attributed to the Yuan period are a number of Buddhist 
and Taoist murals found in temples situated in southern Shansi 
(and northern Honan), in close continuity with the 'frescoes' of 
the same region attributed to the end of the Chin period. Laurence 
Sickman, curator of the Kansas City Museum, has made a special 
study of these, and distinguishes two manners, used concurrently: 
'One, known as "scudding clouds and running water" * (closely- 
folded, agitated drapery and floating scarves, rendered in painting 
by numerous black lines), and the 'iron wire* style in which the 
folds are simpler. The Buddhist personages represented are char- 
acterized by full, round faces with double chins, and plump 
hands with short fingers. 9 (It will be noticed how closely this type 
follows that of the carved wood Kuan-yins of the preceding 
period, the Chin). The Buddhas wear a sort of jacket, with a 
round collar ending in volutes, the jackets are bound in below 
the breast with a sash tied in a bow...'. The wide sleeves end in 
a series of very complicated S-folds. The Bodhisatvas are 'nude 
to the waist, wearing heavy necklaces and with a scarf crossing 
the breast from the left shoulder'. The colours are thick and 
opaque. The white flesh tones of the female figures contrast 
with the reddish tones of the masculine nude. Clouds fill the 
background. The prevailing colours are red and green, with 
constant use of an emerald green combined with blue. 

9 Cf. Laurence Sickman, Notes on the later Chinese Buddhist art, Parnassus, 
xi, 4, 1939. 


Sickman calls particular attention to certain Taoist mural 
paintings decorating the Ming ying wang tien of the Kuang- 
sheng-ssu temple (also in southern Shansi), which are presumed 
to have been executed between 1319 and 1326. 10 His reproduc- 
tions show animated scenes with actors and musicians in either 
Chinese or Mongol costume: human or supernatural beings, 
including demons, in a rather cluttered landscape with a stream 
straddled by a bridge, pines and weeping willows, mountain- 
peaks and mist; the genie Ming Ying Wang, a divinity of the 
mountains and streams of the region, is seated in majesty, and, 
despite his Tang costume, already resembles a Ming portrait; 
beside him stand his mandarin advisers, who remind us of the 
later lay donors of Tun-huang; and there are other processions 
of genii and of military attendants, with a few attractive feminine 
figures among them, and in the distance a cavalcade escorting 
relics, in the usual landscape of trees, rocks and clouds; around 
a laden table is a group of beautiful women in full court attire, 
bearing flowers, vases, flasks etc; and in another festive scene 
are fierce warriors who serve to remind us of the military pro- 
clivities of the Mongol court. 

The museums of Toronto and Kansas Qty are today the most 
important centres for the study of these mural paintings, the 
former having acquired some of those from Hsing-hua-ssu near 
Ping-yang, and the second those of Kuang-sheng ssu in the same 
region. Particularly admirable is a Maitreya paradise in Toronto 
(Maitreya between Manjusri and Avalokite^vara with two assis- 
tants, two monks and two apsaras); we next come upon the 
historical scene of the tonsuring of the emperor Liang Wu-ti, 
the entry into a convent of Queen Hu of the Wei T'o-pa, etc. 11 
American and Canadian specialists have assigned some of these 

* Idem, Wall paintings of the Yiian period in Kuang-Sheng-Ssu, Shansi, 
Revue des Arts Asiatiques, XI, 2, 1937, p. 53. 

11 W. C White, Chinese temple frescoes of the Xlllth century, Toronto, 
p. 122. 


mural paintings to the year 1238, that is to say, to the beginning 
of the Yuan period, which would explain the continuity with 
the Chin style. On the other hand, the present labels of the To- 
ronto Museum bring forward the date of the great 'fresco' of 
the Hsing-hua-ssu to a later Yuan period (inscription of 1298). 12 

* * * 

The ceramic art of the Yuan continues that of the Sung. Shu 
Fu Yao is the only Yuan official ware. The ateliers of Lung-ch'uan 
continue to manufacture celadons. The 'moonlight* Chun wares 
also appear to have enjoyed great favour at this time, and those 
who like them less than the other Sung creations see in this fact 
the somewhat facile predilection of the conquerors for a genre 
more immediately accessible than the celadons, the ting, and the 
crackled wares. 

To the Yuan period is attributed the introduction of a cobalt 
blue, called 'Mohammedan blue' {hui-ch'ing) because it was sup- 
posed to have originated in Iran. There can be no doubt that 
Mongol 'pan-Asianism 1 had established a direct contact between 
Persian civilization and that of China. Two branches of the Gen- 
ghiz-khan family now reigned, one in China (the house of Kublai, 
1260 or 1276-1368), the other in Persia (the house of Hulagu, 
brother of Kublai, 1256-1335). Relations between the two related 
courts remained excellent to the very end, and exchanges of luxury 
gifts between them were constant. The consequences of this 
interpenetration in the realm of art has perhaps not yet been 
sufficiently studied. 

31 The inscription bears the date 'year wu-hsu of the Great Y&ari, a cyclical 
date recurring every sixty years (i.e. 1238, if it can be considered that the Yuan, 
as such, were then reigning in Shaasi, as they certainly were in 1298). 


The Ming 

In the middle of the fourteenth century South China began 
to rise up against the Mongols. 18 The agitation originated among 
the secret societies of the White Lotus (Pai-lien chiao) and the 
White Cloud (Pai-yun), with their esoteric and millenarian 
doctrines. The Mongol administration had on various occasions 
outlawed the White Lotus (e.g. in 1308, 1322). The latter carried 
on its activity underground, and in 1351 its chief, Han Shan-t ung, 
gave the signal for revolt by having his followers adopt a red 
turban as a rallying sign. He announced the coming of the 
Millennium, which would be manifested by the descent upon 
earth of the Buddhist Messiah, the Bodhisattva Maitreya (Mi- 
lo-fo). 14 His doctrine, a mixture of Mahayanic esotericism and 
Taoist sorcery, stirred up the masses. But the prophet lacked a 
gift of leadership, and was defeated by the Mongols, and it 
was the leader of another band of rebels, the future emperor 
Hung-wu, who benefited by the uprising. Hung-wu had no mysti- 
cal leanings, but he was a remarkably skilful politician who, 
after having seized Nanking (1356), progressively drove the 
Mongols from the rest of China, and in 1368 completed the 
liberation of the territory by taking Peking from the last descend- 
ant of Genghiz Khan and of Kublai. He then founded the 
dynasty of the Ming, destined to reign over the Chinese empire 
from 1368 to 1644. 

The greatest Ming sovereign, after Hung-wu (1368-1398), 
was his second son Yung-lo (1403-1424). The first two Ming 
emperors had retained Nanking, the city whence the movement 
of national liberation had sprung, as their capital. In 1409 Yung- 

M On the financial errors that had shaken the prestige of the Mongols, 
particularly in South China (reckless issuing of paper money, inflation, devaluation 
of 'promissory notes', etc.), see H. Franke, Geld und Wirtscbaft in China unter 
der Mongolen-Herrscbaft... Leipzig, 1949. 

14 B. Favre, Les sociitis secrtoes en Chine, p. 82. 


lo moved the capital to Peking. It was he who conceived the plan 
and began the building of the Imperial City' (Huang-ch'eng), 
and within it, of the 'Forbidden Purple Gty' (Tzu-chin-ch'eng), 
with their ensemble of buildings, porticoes, terraces, gardens and 
stretches of water — a plan that was all the more remarkable since 
its aesthetic aspect had to harmonize with very strict astronomical 
and geomantic considerations. 15 Outside the Imperial City, and 
southeast of the Chinese City, Yung-lo built the Altar of Heaven 
(T'ien-sben-t'an), a circular temple resting on three marble terraces 
which remains one of the masterpieces of Chinese architecture 
(1420). One of the succeeding Ming emperors, Chia-ching 
(1522-1556), built other peripheral monuments, in particular the 
Altar of Agriculture (Hsien-nung-t'an) and, to the northeast, the 
Altar of Earth (Ti-t ( an). To Chia-ching we also owe several 
monuments in the Imperial City, such as the Lamaistic Temple 

North of Peking, the tombs of the Ming, with their triumphal 
approach lined with great statues of dignitaries or animals (all 
marked, alas, by the decadence of sculpture under the Ming), 
begin chronologically with the tomb of Yung-lo, which has re- 
mained 'the Great Tomb* (Cb'ang-ling) and of which the en- 
semble — gateways, temple, altar — is the work of emperor 
Hsiian-te (1426-1435). 

* * * 

The first Ming, and in particular emperors Hung-wu and 
Yung-lo, took upon themselves the task of effecting a complete 
restoration of traditional values. To this end, looking back of 
course to before the Mongols, and even beyond the Sung (since 
the Sung, in 1127, had allowed the Tartars to occupy North China 
and Chinese unity to be broken), they decided to take as their 
models the T'ang, who before them had been the last sovereigns 

* J. Bredon-Lauru, Peking, Historical Description, Shanghai, 1931, p. 81. 


of a united China. The Code of the Ming, promulgated in 1373 
by emperor Hung-wu, accordingly imitated the Code of the 
Tang}* For the recruiting of administrative staff they reesta- 
blished the system of examinations that the Mongols had in 
general allowed to lapse. 17 Emperor Yung-lo tried to revive the 
traditions of Tang imperialism by means of expeditions into 
Upper Mongolia and to Vietnam, and even by naval ventures 
in the Indian Ocean. But his successors did not imitate him, and 
immediately after Yung-lo's death (1424), the Ming virtually 
abandoned all military and naval expansion. 

In the realm of art, however, the 'Restoration* style favoured 
by Ming conservatism exerted an undeniable influence. The Ming 
bronze vases sought, with a great deal of application and erudition 
if not, alas, of intelligence and vigour, to imitate the various 
styles of the archaic bronzes. And undeniably, as we shall pre- 
sently see, Ming painting continues in its monochrome landscapes 
the tradition of the Sung wash-drawings, often with a great deal 
of talent. But at the same time (and this is the essential fact 
of Ming art) the love of colour reappears in a whole category 
of paintings. This would seem to represent a resurrection of 
T'ang polychromy, as manifested in the Tun-huang banners and 
in the marquetry of the luxury goods in the Shoso-in. The Tang 
love of colour, as well as of 'prettiness', seems in fact to have 
spanned the Sung in order to give zest to the decorative surround- 
ings of life in the age of the Ming. The same holds good for 
pottery, where the chorus of colours that we witnessed under the 
T'ang reappears under the Ming to replace the severe mono- 
chromy of the Sung aesthetes. But here, too, we should perhaps 
remember that during the whole Yuan period (1276-1368), as 
a result of the Mongol domination common to the two countries, 

M Cf . Pelliot, Le droit chinois, Bulletin de VEcole Francaise JExtrtme-Orient, 
ix, pp. 132 ff.; Escarra, Le droit chinois* Paris, 1936, p. 99. 

17 Idem, Ibid., p. 353. On the recruitment of the 'mandarinate* by means of 
competitive examinations, refer again to Robert des Rotours, TraitS des examens, 
Paris, 1932. 


the China of the Kublai Grand Khans had remained in close 
relationship with the Persia of the Hulagid ilkhans, and that in 
ceramics as in the miniature, Iran is the kingdom of colour. The 
extinction of the Mongol dynasty in Persia in 1335 and the expul- 
sion of the Mongols from China in 1368 might have brought an 
end to these relations; such was not the case. The Ming continued 
to maintain close diplomatic and commercial contacts with the 
new masters of Iran, first Timurid, then Saf avid. Thus the artistic 
consequences of 'Mongol pan-Asianism' were able to survive: 
namely, the defeat of Sung monochromy by Persian polychromy. 

* * * 

The art of Ming times is especially remarkable for its cera- 
mics. 18 Under the Ming, pottery even became associated with 
architecture. 10 * The founder of the dynasty, Hung-wu, decided in 
1394 to replace wood by brick in the new structures. Thus he 
had erected in Nanking a pagoda of green and yellow bricks, 
unfortunately destroyed in 1854. The first Ming also launched 
an imperial factory in Ching-te-chen, a city situated in the north- 
east of Kiangsi and already known for its ceramics under the 
Sung, indeed even from the time of the Han. 

The main categories of Ming ceramics are the following: 
1. San4s e ai or 'three-colours', namely green (from copper), 
yellow (from iron) and aubergine-violet (from manganese). But 
there are variations, and under Chia-ching (1522-1566) the 'three 
colours' may include green, yellow, aubergine, turquoise and a 
deep blue (derived from cobalt). 

18 Cf. Hobson, Wares of the Ming Dynasty, London, 1923; Idem, Eumorfor 
poulos Catalogue, vol. iv, London, 1927; Madeleine David and Daisy Lion- 
Goldschmidt, Guide du Musie Guimet, III, Ciramique cbinoise, 1950 which we 
here follow; A. D. Brankston, Early Ming Wares of Cbingtecken, Peking, 1938. 

* In what is to follow I shall conform to general usage, which instead 
of the names of the emperors of the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties substitutes the 
designation of their 'period of rule' (nien-had). 

77. Plate, famille rose. Ch'ing Dynasty, 1736-1796. Musee Guimet, 

78. Vase, famille noire. Ch'ing Dynasty, 1662-1722. Musie Guimet, 


2. Monochromes. Ching-te-chen manufactured series of 
monochromes that were iron-red, a lustrous black (from cobalt 
and manganese), cobalt blue or violet. The finest date from Chia- 
ching. In Chekiang and elsewhere celadons continued to be 
produced, though in truth they are inferior to those of the Sung, 
and these were exported everywhere (to Persia, Egypt, Istanbul) 
through Ming commercial and diplomatic channels. Special men- 
tion must be made of the white porcelains of Te-hua, in Fukien, 
which were to achieve such great perfection under the following 
(Ch'ing) dynasty, in particular in the eighteenth century. We must 
note, too, under the Ming, the white wares of Ching-te-chen, with 
thick glaze of 'bacon-fat' appearance. For emperor Yung-lo small 
bowls were manufactured in this porcelain, pared down to the 
'bodyless' {t'o-t'ai) fineness of egg-shells. 

3. Blue and white porcelain, manufactured mainly at 
Ching-te-chen. For this product a cobalt mineral was imported 
from Iran on a number of occasions, especially under Yung-lo 
(1403-1424) and Hsuan-te (1426-1435), and for this reason it 
is called 'Mohammedan blue' (hui-ch'ing). The blue d6cor on 
white may also have been inspired by Persian ceramics. We must 
note that in certain periods, in particular in the Ch'eng-hua period 
(1465-1487), the import of Mohammedan blue appears to have 
been interrupted, forcing potters to make do with a local blue 
which was softer and greyish. Mohammedan blue reappeared in 
the Ch'eng-te period (1506-1521), mixed in varying proportions 
with the Chinese blue. Under Chia-ching (1522-1566) blue and 
white had a great vogue, employing a 'deep, often violet-tinged 
blue which formed a magnificent contrast with the white por- 
celain'. Under the emperor Wan-li (1573-1619), although the 
Mohammedan blue and even the kaolin had become rare, we still 
have, along with dull and greyish blues, those of a fine deep 
purplish tint. Apart from this, a technique of underglaze red 
distinguishes the Hsiian-te (1426-1435) and Ch'eng-hua (1465- 
1487) periods, but seems to have lapsed in the sixteenth century, 


to be revived again under the following dynasty, in the K'ang-hsi 
period (1662-1722). 

The technique of underglaze blue in association with bril- 
liantly-coloured enamels (green, yellow, red), had developed 
under the reign of Ch'eng-hua (1465-1487). This play of colours 
is outstanding in the 'painting in contrasting tints' (tou-ts'at), 
'an opposition between pale blue underglaze and brilliant green, 
yellow and red enamels'. It triumphs particularly in the 'Five 
Colour' pieces (wu-ts'at) (turquoise blue, red, green, yellow, 
aubergine, etc.) which appear under Chia-ching (1522-1566) and 
continue under Wan-li (1573-1619). 2 * 

The contrast between Sung and Ming ceramics is striking. 
The former developed into a kind of spiritualization of matter, 
and if it appeals to our senses it is a wholly philosophical sensual- 
ity. With the Ming, Chinese ceramics loses something of this 
idealism. It descends from heaven to earth, but we must hasten to 
add that the garden in which it 'lands' remains one of the most 
marvellous that the imagination of the centuries has created. 

Mrs. Daisy Lion, who under the direction of Mr. Georges 
Salles and in collaboration with Miss Madeleine David carried 
out the new arrangement of these wares in the Grandidier Col- 
lection at the Guimet Museum, has clearly brought out the im- 
pression experienced by the visitor in passing from the Sung 
show-cases to those of the Ming: 'The colour harmonies are 
first limited to a narrow gamut, blues that range from turquoise 
to indigo, somewhat acid greens, yellows and violets. It is all 
rather loud, and certainly bold enough. The large hall in which 
these wares are exhibited is filled, as it were, with the sound of 
violence, with a tremendous chorus; the forms are majestic, as- 
sured, imposing. But this is only a stage; at the next turn there 
is recreated the calming atmosphere of the time of the Sung 

30 M. David and Daisy Lion, Guide du Musie Guimet, III, pp. 133 ff., which 
we here quote briefly and which should be consulted for fuller details. For the 
Ming shades, see the colour-plates in Hobson, Eumorfopoulos Collection, vol. IV. 


with monochromes in a warm red, crackled glazes that amaze 
contemporary potters, and the incomparable Blanc-de-Chine, 
never equalled elsewhere. It is a place of calm, of fullness, of 
purity. Further on we come upon one of the greatest glories of 
the Grandidier collection. The Blue-and-White wares are dis- 
played in a vast bright room in which their astonishing symphony 
produces a startling effect. Beneath their apparent uniformity, 
the diversity quickly becomes apparent: a lively variety of forms, 
a variety of pastes, now dense, now translucent, an endless var- 
iety of designs and lastly a variety in colour scale that ranges 
from a delicate, silvery blue to the deep, purplish blue of the 
sixteenth century, and concludes with the radiant sapphire of the 
seventeenth'. 21 

* * * 

Ming painting admittedly did not produce geniuses of excep- 
tional stature like those of the Sung period, but it did bequeath 
to us many works that by themselves alone would do honour to 
any period. These are commonly classified into four groups. 22 

1. In the beginning of the fifteenth century, Ming painters 
were still under the influence of the Yuan style. Among them 
may be mentioned the emperor Hsiian-te (1398-1435), and two 
painters of bamboos (we have seen how highly honoured this 
theme is in China for its philosophic symbolism): Wang Fu 
(1362-1416) and his pupil, Hsia Ch'ang (1388-1470). 

2. The *Wu' group, (i.e. the group of Wu-men, the former 
name of Suchow, in Kiangsu, near the mouth of the Yangtze). 
The founder of the school was Shen Chou (1427-1509), who was 

31 Daisy Lyon, Au Musee Guimet, p. 162. 

39 Siren, A History of Later Chinese Painting, London, 1938, (and the review 
by Jean Buhot in Revue des Arts Asiatiques, xn, 2-3, pp. 129-130); J.-P. Dubosc, 
Exhibition of Chinese Painters of Ming and Ch'ing Dynasties, New York, 1949; 
E. H. von Tscharner, Grosse chinesische Maler der Ming und Ts'ing Dynastien 
und chinesische Volkskunst, Zurich, 1950; J.-P. Dubosc, A New Approach to 
Chinese Painting, Oriental Art, iu, 2. 


a native of this region, an artist with a truly original talent, who 
in many respects revitalized the art of landscape-painting. 23 His 
pupil, Wen Cheng-ming (1470-1559), also born near Suchow, 
is nearly as well known as a poet as he is as a landscapist. Tang 
Yin (1470-1523) painted Buddhist subjects as well as landscapes. 
Wen Po-jen (1502-1575), the nephew of Wen Cheng-ming, con- 
tinued his tradition. 

3. The school of Chekiang. In this group attention may be 
called to Wu Wei (1459-1508), who in particular has left paint- 
ings of piled-up mountains in mist; Hsii Wei (1521-1593), paint- 
er and poet; Lan Ying (about 1578-1660) and Ting Yun-peng, 
who painted between 1585 and 1625. 

4. The group formed around Tung Ch'i-chang (1555- 
1636), a native of Kiangsu, who was the last great Ming painter. 

As we see, the majority of these masters — those of the last 
three groups — even if they came to live in Peking, were natives 
either of the region of the mouth of the Yangtze, or of the pro- 
vince of Chekiang, which so many Sung artists had made famous. 
But although there is continuity from the Sung to the Ming, it 
would be unjust to see mere imitation in this. 'On the contrary, 
what strikes us' as Jean Buhot notes, 'is the extreme vitality of 
this art that does not content itself, as is too often believed, with 
exploiting old formulae, but always seeks novelty in composition, 
in technique, even in mannerism. What novelty, what freshness 
there is in this intimate genre!' 

Special mention must be made of the Ming funerary portraits 
which are often distinguished by the sober realism of their draw- 
ing, the sharpness of psychological insight, the force of character 
communicated. At their best they may be called the Clouets, 
Holbeins and almost the Franz Halses of the Far East. 

Academic interest in art under the Ming produced art 
theoreticians, art critics and art historians of real merit. We may 

M Tomita and Chiu Kai-ming, An Album of Landscape and Poems by Shen 
Chou, Bulletin of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Oct. 1948. 


79- The Temple of Heaven, Peking. 1420 A. D. 


mention Mo Shih-lung, who painted between 1567 and 1582 and 
left us the treatise on painting Hua sbuo. 2 * Another treatise on 
painting is the Chieh tzu yuan hua-chuan ('Manual of the 
Mustard-Seed Garden'), the basic material of which is the work 
of Li Ch'ang-heng (also called Li Liu-fang) a scholar and land- 
scapist of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The 
book was re-edited and prefaced in the Manchu period, at the 
end of the seventeenth century, by the art critic Li Yii and the 
landscapist Wang An-chieh. The first part of this work appeared 
in 1679, the second in 1701. 25 

It was towards the end of the Ming period that the Chinese 
print reached its peak. 

Like printing itself, the print in China grew out of the taking 
of rubbings from engraved stones. Then, in the Tang period, 
had come xylography, the use of wood blocks, for the printing 
not only of edifying texts (generally Buddhist), but also of Bud- 
dhist images. From Tun-huang, the Pelliot and Aurel Stein mis- 
sions brought back to Paris (Guimet Museum and Bibliotheque 
Nationale) and to the British Museum, wood-cuts representing 
the lokapala of the North, Vai&avana, dated 947, a paradise of 
AvalokiteSvara, likewise of the tenth century, etc. 26 (The Pelliot 
mission also brought back from Kucha a small 8th century wood- 
block used in printing the image of the Buddha). The Pelliot 
wood-cuts of Tun-huang are in black on white, but sometimes 
enhanced by hand-colouring. Among f lay' prints, the Bibliotheque 
Nationale owns the reproduction of a Sung album, published in 
1261, representing 'the life of a flower', engraved after the painter 
Sung Po-jen. Under the Yuan the print developed a considerable 
technical maturity, as can be seen from an illustrated edition of 
the Kuan-yin Sutra dated 1331. Under the Ming, as we have 

* Translation by Victoria Contag in Ostasiatiscbe Zeitscbrift, 1933. 

86 Translation by R. Petrucci, Encyclopidie de la peinture chinoise, Paris, 1918. 

* Vandier-Nicolas, Estampes, in Salles, Arts de la Chine ancienne, p. 70, 
pi. xnc; Hambis, Manuscrits et peintures de Touen-Houang, Mission Pelliot, 
1906-1909, Catalogue de ^Exposition du MusSe Guimet, Oct. 1947. 


said, the print enjoyed great favour. As in so many paintings 
and porcelains, its theme is generally that of 'birds and flowers'. 
At the beginning of the sixteenth century the region of Nanking 
and of Suchow was an important centre. Here were published, 
after the drawings of T'ang Yin (1466-1524), several albums 
of engravings printed in red, yellow, blue and green without 
black outlines. The Wan Li period (1573-1619) was one of great 
refinement, both for prints and for porcelain. 27 

The tradition of the Chin and Yuan mural paintings was also 
maintained under the Ming, especially in the province of Shansi 
and the adjoining districts. The famous 'frescoes' of the Eumorfo- 
poulos collection, which were attributed to the Yuan by W. G 
White, have been brought forward to the Ming period by Pel- 
liot. 28 One of these, representing three large Bodhisattvas, comes 
from Ch'ing-liang ssu (near Hsing-t'ang-hsien, in Hopei), a 
temple built in 1188, rebuilt in 1424, and restored in 1466-1468. 
The frescoes in question are accordingly attributed by Pelliot to 
the fifteenth century. We may note that the gilt plaster ornaments 
in relief with which they are adorned is a feature that had first 
appeared under the Yuan. The temple of Fan-hai ssu, in the north- 
west suburbs of Peking, built in 1440, was likewise decorated 
with Buddhist frescoes (The Western Paradise', Kuan-yin, etc.) 
in the Ming style, with ornamentation in gilt plaster. 20 

21 Vandier-Nicolas, Op. «/.; Marian Deosmore, Essai pour servir k l'&ude 
de la gravure chinoise, Revue des Arts Asiatiques, xi, i, pp. 13 ff. (with illustra- 

28 Cf. L. Binyon, Catalogue Eumorfopoulos. Frescoes. Pelliot, Les fresques 
de la collection Eumorfopoulos et les fresques de Touen houang, Revue des Arts 
Asiatiques, v, 1928, p. 43. As we have seen, the term fresco is used here by 
extension, for the technique of the mural painting of Central Asia and the Far 
East differs from the true a fresco process. 

* Angela Latham, Illustrated London News, Feb. 27, 1937, pp. 357-359. 


* * * 

It is in the Ming period that ivory statuettes first make their 
appearance in the history of art. 

Regarding the craftsmen of the Ming of the K'ang-hsi era, 
Maurice Pal&>logue has made the remark that none have since 
then ever understood better 'how ivory should be worked in such 
a way as to give full value to its texture at once veined and glossy, 
and bestow a soft charm and a mellow glow on what might 
be called its skin*. We may add that the Ming and K'ang-hsi 
ivories are noteworthy for the happy simplicity and purity of 
their lines, having none of the tiresome virtuosity and tout s de 
force found in the nineteenth century 'curio'. 

We here witness once again a phenomenon well known in 
the history of art — a 'transposition of genres'. In the field of 
ceramics, the Ming figurines (we need only compare them in the 
show-cases in our museums) are far from equalling the Tang 
terra cottas. On the other hand, those 'Chinese tanagras', which 
had been absent since the tenth century, here reappear in the best 
feminine statuettes of the Ming or K'ang-hsi ivories. The styles of 
dress have changed, the charm of the attitudes remains the same. 
Perhaps the lightness of the terra cotta lent more 'springiness' 
to the Tang dancing girls, but the richness of the ivory, with its 
warm tones, like flesh illuminated by an inner sun, confers upon 
the figures carved out of this material a voluptuous appeal. 

Moreover, the Ming and Ch'ing ivories succeeded, better 
perhaps than any other material, in portraying the popular pan- 
theon, which by then was definitively fixed. They have provided 
us with excellent specimens of the various canonical attitudes 
of Kuan-yin, the former Bodhisattva Avalokite^vara, who by now 
had become a 'madonna': Kuan-yin sitting in state, with or 
without attendants, Kuan-yin in the posture of 'royal ease*, etc 
By virtue of the very slightness of their dimensions and the lim- 
itations of the material, these ivories avoid the turgidity of the 
large Kuan-yin of the Ming, and even of the Sung, periods. A type 


dear to the popular imagination and often found both in ivory 
and in porcelain (blanc-de-chine) is that of the 'Kuan-yin giver 
of children' {Sung-tzu Kuan-yin), also called the 'Kuan-yin with 
white garments' (Pai-i Kuan-yin), whose chance similarity of 
attitude to that of our own Virgin-and-Child has often been 
remarked upon. In the same category is the Taoist counterpart 
of Kuan-yin, the 'Princess of the Mottled Clouds' (Pi-hsia yiian- 
chiin) who likewise grants progeny to hitherto barren families. 
No less interesting from the iconographic point of view are the 
ivory statuettes of Taoist genii: the 'Eight Immortals' (hsien); 
and the three Gods of Happiness — literally the 'Three Stars' 
(San Hsing), for these supernatural beings, represented on earth 
in the guise of wise old men, have their heavenly correspondence 
with three stars, namely the Star of Happiness (Fu-hsing), the 
Star of Official Dignities (Lu-hsing) — for this is a land of man- 
darins, of a 'transcendent', pantheonized mandarinate — and the 
Star of Longevity (Shou-hsing). On many of the ivories in our 
possession these kindly old men with their flowing beards and 
protuberant craniums — made deliberately droll, yet without de- 
tracting from their dignity — gaze upon us with smiling good- 
nature, indeed with a somewhat mocking benevolence: the epi- 
tome, in fact, of Chinese humour. 80 

Ming literature enjoys little critical favour today, 'In many 
respects', Odile Kaltermark writes, 'it is marked by conven- 
tionality and lack of imagination. The Confucianist scholar class, 
which seemed to have ceased to be anything but a decadent bour- 
geoisie, perpetuated and aggravated an absurd system of examin- 

" See Maspero, RenS Grousset and Lucien Lion, Les ivoires religieux et 
midtcaux chinots, Paris, 1939; Maspero, Mythologie de la Chine moderne, in 
Mytbologie Asiatique lllustri by P.-L. Couchoud, 1928, pp. 227-362; Idem, 
Les dieux taolstes. Comment on communique avec eux, Acadtoie des Inscriptions, 
seance publique annuelle du 19 novembre 1937. 


ations that merely encouraged its inertia'. The period never- 
theless produced one original philosopher, Wang Yang-ming 
(1472-1528 or 1473-1529). 81 

Wang Yang-ming sought to react against the mechanistic 
determinism of Chu Hsi, or at least to correct it, through Men- 
cius's theory on the goodness innate in the heart of man. Chu 
Hsi, for that matter, admitted that the moral conscience represents 
our participation in the laws of the universe or, as he said, in 
the 'Heavenly Norm' (X*ien-li). Wang Yang-ming concludes that 
the objective study of the universe is less important to us than 
intuition, through which we communicate with the essence of 
things. He discovers in intuitive knowledge the release of uni- 
versal spontaneity, the source of metaphysical freedom. Certain 
present-day Chinese writers see in it a kind of 'Bergsonism' in 
reaction against the cult of science ('a la Herbert Spencer') of 
the school of Chu Hsi. In reality the doctrine of intuition de- 
veloped by Wang Yang-ming unwittingly bore traces of the 
Buddhist conceptions of the Ch'an school. 

In the literary field proper the Ming period achieved distinc- 
tion in the theatre and in the novel. The Yiian theatre had kept 
something of its original character of popular entertainment. 
The more refined Ming theatre (Ch'uan ch'i) became a pastime 
for the great. Several Ming plays — 'the Guitar' (P'i-p'a cht) 
composed by Kao Ming about 1367, 'the Pavilion of Peonies' 
(Mu tan t'ing), by Tang Hsien-tsu (1550-1611), works full of 
romantic adventures, — can still be read with interest. The same 
is true of several Ming novels, among which must first be men- 
tioned historical novels like the San-kuo-chih yen-i 9 a fictionalized 
history of the Three Kingdoms, full of action, and with the 
characters of heroes and villains often powerfully drawn, which 
occasionally achieves an epic feeling. 32 The author, a certain Lo 

81 F. Henke, The Philosophy of Wang Yang-ming, Chicago, 1916; Wang 
Tch'ang-tche, La philosophie morale de Wang Yang-ming, Shanghai, 1936. 
" Ou Itai, Le toman cbinois, Paris, 1933, p. 59. 


Pen whose dates can be placed only very approximately between 
1330 and 1400, is considered by Sung-nien Hsu as having man- 
ifested democratic tendencies amid the highly conservative 
society of the Ming. 38 Another historical novel, but at the same 
time having a considerable element of fantasy, is the story of 
the 'Voyage to the West' (i.e. India) of the pilgrim Hsuan-tsang 
(Hsi-yu-chi), which is attributed to Wu Ch'eng-en (very ap- 
proximately between 1510 and 1580). 84 As Odile Kaltenmark 
observes, the fanciful predominates here to such an extent that 
the atmosphere is as much Taoist as it is Buddhist. The hero 
becomes, not so much Hsuan-tsang as his ally, the extraordinary 
Monkey King Sun Wu-k'ung who is endowed with magic 
powers and accomplishes prodigious exploits in the earthly and 
heavenly worlds. We find here, along with a delight in the fan- 
ciful, a considerable ingredient of humour. 85 Another novel, the 
Veng-shen yen-i or 'novel of the investiture of the gods', has 
gods, genii and demons intervening to bring about the downfall 
of the dynasty of the Shang-Yin and the accession of the house 
of Chou. 88 

Other novels have a quite different character, as exemplified 
by the Chin-Fing-mei ('the flowers of met in a golden vase'), 
erroneously attributed to the poet Wang Shih-cheng (1526-1590), 
typical of the realistic novel of manners, and somewhat ribald. 87 

* Sung-Nien Hsu, Anthologie de la Ihttrature chinoise, p. 61. 

" Cf. Ou Itai, Op. «/., pp. 31-40. 

" Wu Che'ng-en, Monkey, translated by A. Waley, London, 1945; and 
Monkeys Pilgerfabrt, German translation by Georgette Boner and Maria Nils, 
Zurich, 1947. 

" Ou Itai, Op. cit,, p. 41. 

" Idem, p. 79. 


The Ch'ing 

In 1644 the Manchus took advantage of a serious insurrec- 
tion that had broken out in China to seize Peking. 88 Almost 
without striking a blow, they made themselves masters of the 
immense empire and founded a new and final imperial dynasty, 
the Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1912). Like the Mongol emperors four 
centuries before, the Manchu emperors were eager to assume, in 
the eyes of their Chinese subjects, their role as Sons of Heaven. 
The two greatest among them, K c ang-hsi (1662-1722) and Ch'ien- 
lung (1736-1796), were brilliantly successful in this. Both per- 
formed a Chinese imperial task in restoring the Peking palaces. 189 
The Forbidden City had been pillaged and in part burned down 
during the 1644 revolt that had occasioned the Manchu interven- 
tion. K'ang-hsi restored not only the palaces of the Forbidden 
Purple City (Tzu-chin-ch'eng), but also the monuments of the 
other districts, such as the Lamaistic temple of Chan-t'an-ssu. On 
the outskirts, the Temple of Heaven (Tien-t'an) and the Temple 
of Agriculture {Hsien-nung-t'an) were likewise restored by 
Ch'ien-lung. K'ang-hsi and Ch'ien-lung thus showed themselves 
to be the true heirs and faithful trustees of the ideas of the Ming 
emperor Yung-lo. In Inner Mongolia K'ang-hsi in 1703 erected 
the summer palace of Jehol, which was later further embellished 
by Ch'ien-lung. 40 

Their reigns and that of the intervening emperor Yung- 
cheng (1723-1735) are also of great importance in the history 
of ceramics. 41 

* Cf. Frantz Michael, The Origin of Manchu Rule in China: Frontier and 
Bureaucracy as Interacting Forces in Chinese Empire, Baltimore, 1942. 

* See Siren, Les palais impiriaux de Pikin; Idem, Gardens of China, New 
York, 1949-1950. 

* See Tadashi Sekino, Summer Palace and Lama Temples in Jehol, Tokyo, 

41 See particularly Hobson, Catalogue of the Eumorfopoulos Collection, Ce- 
ramic, vol. v; J. P. van Goidsenhoven, La Ciramique chinoise sous les Ts'ing, 


The ceramic art of the K'ang-hsi period (1662-1722) is partic- 
ularly noteworthy for its copper-red monochromes, with their 
rich, so-called sang-de-bceuf hues. Among K'ang-hsi mono- 
chromes are also white wares of excellent quality. A new use of 
cobalt blue produced 'mottled' and 'powdered* blues. K'ang-hsi 
porcelain is likewise remarkable for 'the range of yellows deriv- 
ed from iron, as well as from ochre, brown ochre, sienna and 
burnt umber (Nanking yellow and cafe-au-lait)'. 42 

K'ang-hsi 'blue and white' is one of the glories of the reign 
(blue painted underglaze on a white background, and fired at 
a high temperature). 'The blue here is a local cobalt, refined and 
purified to the famous sapphire tone of unequalled brilliance*. 
The 'Five Colours' (Wu-ts'af) of the K'ang-hsi period, used in 
designs of flowers and animals, marks the transition between the 
similar Ming pieces and the famille verte characteristic of the new 

The K'ang-hsi use of enamels represents the culmination of 
a long process. Under the Sung we had seen red, yellow and 
green. At the end of the Ming there had been added a few 
touches of bright turquoise blue. But 'the genre reached its full 
development only in the K'ang-hsi period, in dazzling pieces in 
which coral red and green predominate, heightened here and 
there by light touches of yellow and pale violet'. 43 

K'ang-hsi porcelain is marked above all by the triumph of 
the famille verte, 'with its infinite gradation of colour and at- 
tractive diversity of pictorial design'. 44 Madeleine David and 

Brussels, 1936. And Madeleine David, Guide du Musie Guimet, in, Ciramique 
chinoise, which we follow here. 

* Ibid., p. 153. 

* Ibid., p. 154. 

** In this connection we would call attention, in particular, among the pieces 
of the Grandidier collection at the Guimet Museum (show-case no. 47), to the 
famous vase with the thousand stags* *a magnificent example of this technique in 
which the whole gamut of the greens is used'. 

80. Ju Peon : Horses. Ink on paper. Twentieth century. Music Cernuschi, 

81. Fu Pao-shth: Landscape. Ink and color on paper. Twentieth century. 
Musie Cerni4schi, Paris. 


Daisy Lion, who have furnished us with the best short introduc- 
tion to the subject, point out in this connection that the famille 
verte 'differs from the "Five Colour" wares in the substitution 
of an opaque purplish blue enamel for underglaze blue, and in 
the frequent use of a dark green enamel shading into black'. 
To imitate the 'Three Colours' of the Ming, famille verte enamels 
were also used on biscuit-ware, predominantly in green and yel- 
low. This is the classic period in porcelain, when the skill and 
experience of the potter reached their full development during 
the reign of the great scholar and art-lover K'ang-hsi... Its most 
perfect expression is perhaps in the large vases of the so-called 
famille noire : the vigour of the colours, the majesty of the forms 
reach a peak at which art cannot remain for any length of 
time'. 45 

During the Yung-cheng period (1723-1735) the famille verte 
was superseded by the famille rose 'in which a pink enamel of 
western origin, somewhat purple in tint, predominated'. 

The reign of Ch'ien-lung (1736-1796) is the last great period 
of Chinese ceramics. The career of the famille rose attains its 
climax in the 'harlequin' style, and then gives way to the mille 
fleurs (veritable 'pictures on porcelain') — a last hirst of splen- 
dour before the onset of decadence. 

In a process of development begun under the Ming, continued 
under K'ang-hsi and reaching its culmination under Ch'ien-lung, 
we have witnessed a remarkable transposition of genres: the art 
of the painter — of 'birds and flowers', landscape, etc — has been 
transferred to ceramic decoration. 

In monochrome-gla2ed wares the Ch'ien-lung period has also 
to its credit some use of red enamels (rouge de fer, coral, tomato), 
turquoise blues and amethyst violets, as well as black often ac- 
companied by enamels of the famille rose; and in addition some 
tours-de-force which, while representing the summit of technical 

45 Daisy Lion, Au Mus6e Guimet, p. 163. 


skill, also betray the drying-up of inspiration that is a forerunner 
of an abrupt fall from eminence. 

* * * 

Ch'ing painting of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 
can boast several painters of talent. 4 * One prominent school of 
landscapists is that which included Wang Shih-min (1592-1680), 
Wang Yiian-ch'i (1642-1715), Wang Hui (1632-1717), Huang 
Ting (1660-1730) and Fang Shih-shu (1692-1751), all past mas- 
ters of firm, sure drawing, full of skill and delicacy; while 
among the individualists were the monk Pa-ta Shan-jen (approx. 
1626-1705), K'un-ts'an (painted between 1650 and 1675), the 
monk Shih-t'ao (approx. 1630-1707), and Kung-hsien, the Nank- 
ing master (painted between 1656 and 1682). Somewhat apart 
from these are the provincial painters of Anhui, such as Hung-jen 
(died 1663), or of Yang-chou, like Chin Nung (1687-1764). 

The life of Shih-t'ao (also known as Tao-chi), one of whose 
most powerfully constructed landscapes was acquired by the 
Guimet Museum in 1951, was strongly determined by fate. As 
a descendant of the Ming house, he was unable to accept the 
Manchu domination and became a Ch'an monk. He wrote a 
treatise on painting, the Hua yu lu, in which he proclaims his 
own fierce independence in the face of official academicism. 

Prints continued to be esteemed in the early part of the Ch'ing 
dynasty. It was, as we saw, in 1679 that the first edition of the 
Manual of the Mustard-seed Garden, with its numerous plates, 
was published. The best colour prints belong to this period (end 
of the seventeenth and first half of the eighteenth century). 'They 
represent flowers, baskets or bowls of fruit, landscapes, and 
sometimes subjects with figures of a more popular character. Their 
technique is complex and ingenious, their range of colour very 

* Catalogue of the Exhibition 'Great Chinese Painters of the Ming and 
Ch'ing Dynasties', New York, March-April 1949. 


varied: yellows, orange, browns, greens of several hues, reds, 
pinks and blues; sometimes the engravers further enrich it by 
superimposing different colours one on another'. 47 In the former 
Curtis and Vever collections in Paris were prints of the K'ang-hsi 
and Yung-cheng periods showing a remarkably delicate treat- 
ment of bird and flower themes. 48 

In another volume in the present series we shall have occasion 
to speak of the western influence in the Far East, both in con- 
nection with the porcelains of the India Company and with the 
painting of Father Castiglione. 

Modern Times 

Among the Confucian scholars of the seventeenth and eight- 
eenth centuries were a few substantial thinkers who pursued 
research in an already scientific spirit. Such a one was Ku Yen-wu 
(1613-1682), who reproached Wang Yang-ming's intuitionist 
philosophy for having, under the influence of Ch'an mysticism, 
turned Chinese thought away from all that was constructive in 
Chu Hsi's ideas. Ku Yen-wu undertook to bring the mind back 
into the path of positive knowledge. Along these lines he wrote, in 
particular, a historical, ethnographical and economic geography. 
Other scholars, like the exegetist Hui Tung (1697-1758), going 
even beyond the interpretation of the Sung and finding their 
point of reference in the Han, undertook a rigorous criticism 
of the canonical texts. The philologist and mathematician Tai 
Chen (1723-1777) built on these foundations, which we should 
call positivist, a separate system that he opposed even to that of 
Chu Hsi. In historical criticism, Ts'ui Shu (1740-1818) did not 

* Vandier-Nicolas in Salles, Arts de la Chine ancienne, pp. 73-74. 

48 Good reproductions in Densmore, Op. cit. 9 and in Vandier-Nicolas, loc. 
ch. 9 plates xx-xxi; Cf. Dubosc, Images imprimees et gouaches populates chi- 
noises, Catalogue of the Exhibition Chinesische Malerei der Ming und Ts'ing 
Dynastien, Zurich, 1950, 


hesitate to demonstrate that the most venerated traditions regard- 
ing Chinese origins were all cluttered with folk legends. 

Launched upon this path, textual criticism led inevitably to 
the publications of the Cantonese K'ang Yu-wei (1858-1927), 
who considered the texts incorporated in the Confucian canon 
in the period of the second Han (the so-called ku-wen) as no 
less apocryphal than the subsequent additions. In a sensational 
manifesto on 'Confucius as Reformer' (1897), K'ang Yu-wei 
presented the Sage as the very incarnation of the social reformer 
as conceived by the younger generation. For western ideas, made 
available by a galaxy of translators, were inevitably finding their 
way into the intellectual world. Among such translators must 
be mentioned Yen Fu (1852-1921) who translated into Chinese 
the works of the English positivist and evolutionist school, and 
Lin Shu (1852-1924) who translated a whole library of English, 
French and Russian social novels, 49 

While the spontaneous workings of the Chinese mind, 
further stimulated by the invasion of western ideas, were shaking 
thousand-year-old conservatism, the Manchu dynasty, incapable 
of defending China against the West, was losing face' in the 
eyes of the Chinese people. The first Chinese national reaction 
against the bankruptcy of the 'foreign dynasty' had been the 
revolt of the Tai-p'ing who had remained masters of Nanking 
for eleven years (1853-1864). They' had failed by reason of the 
poverty of their ideology— an illuminism, a millenarianism that 
was a hodge-podge of all the reveries of the neo-Amidic or neo- 
Taoist sects (White Lotus, White Cloud, etc.), mixed up with 
strangely interpreted Biblical conceptions. 50 

* See E. R. Hughes, The Invasion of China by the Western World, London, 

00 The rai-p'ing of the years 1850-1864, as later the Boxers (Ch'Man-fe!) 
of 1900, are modern instances of the many occasions throughout Chinese history 
when secret societies have headed popular movements, from the time of the Red 
Eyebrows (Che-me!) in 18 a.d. and the Yellow Turbans (Huang-chin) in 184. 
The intervening centuries also witnessed the agitations fomented by the association 


In foreign policy disasters followed one upon another. After 
the humiliation of the Opium war (1842) came the capture of 
Peking by the Anglo-French (1860), then the defeats of the 
Sino-Japanese war (1894-1895) which were a prelude to the new 
occupation of Peking by foreign armies (1900). K'ang Yu-wei, 
the scholar of whom we have spoken as having undertaken the 
modernization of Confucianism, in the same spirit had the idea 
of saving the monarchy by converting it to reformism. He was 
seconded in this undertaking by his disciple, the historian Liang 
Ch'i-ch'ao (1873-1929), who proposed as models of regenerated, 
modernized and prosperous monarchies the Russia of Peter the 
Great and the Japan of Meiji; and as an example not to be fol- 
lowed, that of the immobile and decrepit Ottoman empire. Unex- 
pectedly, these lessons were heeded by the young emperor Kuang- 
hsii, who in 1898 called K'ang Yu-wei and Liang Ch'i-chao 
into his councils. There followed the 'Hundred Days', which 
were marked by a series of -hasty imperial edicts, intended to 
modernize the old empire at one stroke by a thoroughgoing ap- 
plication of K'ang Yu-wei's reformist programme. 

We know that the Dowager Empress Tzu-hsi, who adhered 
to the ideas of the most retrograde Manchu party, brought this 
endeavour to an abrupt end. K'ang Yu-wei and Liang Ch'i-ch'ao 
barely had time to take refuge in Japan, where the latter, aban- 
doning his dream of a modernized monarchy, passed over to 
republican ideas. As for K'ang Yu-wei, he was to go even 
further, since in 1913 he was to expound, as the doctrine of the 
'Great Concord' (Ta-t'ung), a communist-tinged interpretation 
of Confucianism. 

To replace an abortive reformism there arose the radicalism 
of Sun Yat-sen. This cantonese intellectual (1866-1925) who 
had studied medicine and political economy in Honolulu and in 

known as the Ko-lao-bui, the Triad (San-ko-but), and the associations of the 
White Lotus (Pai-lien-Mao) and of the White Cloud (Pai-yun), etc. See Favre, 
Les sociftis secrht?s en Chine, Paris, 1933, 


Hong-Kong, was a son of Overseas China, with a cultural back- 
ground as much Anglo-Saxon as it was Chinese, and a follower 
of the Christian Church. His doctrine, 'Triple Demism', that is 
to say the Three Principles of Democracy (San min chu i), con- 
sisted of, 1. nationalism (expulsion of the Manchus, government 
of China by the Chinese); 2. democracy (government of the people 
by the people, and in the interim by its most enlightened guides, 
the members of the nationalist party or Kuo-min-tang); 3. a state 
socialism, not yet Marxist, it seems, but with a whole network 
of social laws. 

It was on this programme that the followers of Sun Yat-sen, 
having brought about the revolt of a part of the army, unleashed 
the revolution of the winter of 1911-1912 that deposed the 
Manchu dynasty and proclaimed the republic. As we know, a 
viceroy of the old regime, the too-clever Yuan Shih-k'ai, was 
able to manipulate the revolution to his own advantage and 
while holding the title of president of the republic set up a 
dictatorship (1912-1916). He succumbed in 1916 before the 
double revolt of the other military chiefs in the North and of 
the republican party in the South. But China then fell into a 
state of military anarchy similar to that which a study of history 
shows us to have obtained during the period of the Great Crum- 
bling (316-589) and the time of the Five Dynasties (907-959). 

Nevertheless, in the midst of the worst anarchy, the intellec- 
tual movement pursued its course. 51 Two university men, Ch'en 
Tu-hsiu and Hu Shih, were appealing as early as in 1916 for a 
radical reform of teaching and of literature. They were successful 
in having the written language (wen-li) in the schools replaced 
by the spoken language (that of Peking), the 'clear language' 
(pai-hua) 9 which in turn became the written language and was 
henceforth taught as the national language in all the provinces 
(1920). It was in the spoken language that Hu Shih, preaching 

91 Cf. Hu Shih, The Chinese Renaissance, 1934, 


by example, had published his History of Chinese Philosophy 
in 1919. 

Sun Yat-sen, who died in 1925, was succeeded at the head of 
the Kuo-min-tang by a southern general, Chiang Kai-shek, who 
from Canton had marched north against the northern generals, 
driving them out of Nanking (1927) and Peking (1928), thus, at 
least officially— and with Nanking as his capital — reestablishing 
the unity of China. For twenty years, from 1928 to 1948, Chiang 
Kai-shek, surrounded by the polysynody of the Kuo-min-tang, 
governed official China, if one excepts the Japanese invasion and 
occupation in the eastern provinces (1937-1945) and the Com- 
munist uprisings at the most diverse points. 

For the communist party (Kung-ch'an-tang) was gaining 
ground. After having for a brief time (1927-1933) set up a soviet 
republic in the southern province of Kiangsi, the communists, 
moving to the other end of China, re-formed in the extreme north 
of Shensi, in Yennan. They now had at their head an energetic 
soldier, of Marxist training, Mao Tse-tung, who in Yennan organ- 
ized a disciplined army. At the head of the communist-minded 
intellectuals was the writer and archaelogist Kuo Mo-jo who 
soon exerted a considerable influence over university circles. 52 
We know that in the face of the incapacity of the Kuo-min-tang 
to reform itself the armies of Mao Tse-tung, after having esta- 
blished a central communist government in Peking— which thus 
once again became the capital— were able to drive Chiang Kai- 
shek out of Nanking and occupy all China (1949). 

w Kuo Mo- Jo is the author, among other works, of Cbun^kuo ku tat shi nien 
cbiou, Research on the History of Chinese Antiquity, Shangl3Sr-4S31^ and-,of 
volumes on the inscriptions of the Yin and Chou bronzes, Liang •G&d**tbin 
wen tz'u ta hsi k'ao sbib 9 — and Yin Chou ch'ing t'ung cb'i mtng wen yen cbiu, 
Peking, 1931, 1935. 


* * * 

In the realm of Chinese art the last thirty years have witnessed 
a considerable revival. 53 

In 1919 a lover of French art, Ts'ai Yiian-p'ei, founded the 
Academy of Fine Arts of Peking, and a team of new talents 
formed around Hsu Ta-tsang. The 1933 exhibition was in itself a 
revelation, with the works of innovators (in other respects faith- 
ful to the traditional Chinese genius) like Wang I-ching (born 
in 1869), Fan Yiieh-yii (born in 1870), Chang Ta-ch'ien (born in 
1889) and Chen Shu-jen (born in 1884). 

A very great painter, the son of Hsu Ta-tsang, the master 
Jupeon (Hsu Pei-wong), born in 1894 (and who worked in Paris 
from 1921 to 1926) is in the very front rank among creative tal- 
ents. His familiarity with Montparnasse has deprived him of 
none of his original spontaneity. Probably no one has more 
surely realized the East- West synthesis. In his Indian-ink wash 
drawings in which, in the words of Mr. Shu Ling, 'the design 
and the ink become one, in which 'the art of Jup£on, in all its 
sobriety and power, renders the whole essence in a few violently 
flung lines', the present president of the Chinese Academy of Fine 
Arts conjures up unbroken stallions, wild mares, who whinny, 
snort and cavort before our eyes, or — without ever departing from 
the frankest naturalism — he shows us, in the heat of action, 
monstrous buffalos holding demoniacal snakes at bay. His art 
reveals a freedom, a spontaneity, a passion worthy of the greatest. 
One has the illusion of witnessing, as seized by the most modern 

88 See Mr. Shu Ling's magnificent album, La peinture chinoise contemporaine, 
Paris, 1949; Jupeon and Salles, Catalogue de ^Exposition de peinture chinoise, 
art chinois contemporain, May-June, 1935; Vadime Elisseeff, Catalogue de V expo- 
sition de peintres chinois au Musie Cernuschi, Paris, June 1946; Association 
France-Chine, Exposition des artistes chinois en France (at the Ecole des Beaux- 
Arts), Catalogue by Shu Ling, October 1946; Exposition des peintures d'Ou 
Sogine au Musie Galliera, Paris, 1947; Lu Cha-kwan, Catalogue de I'Exposition 
de peintures chinoises au Musie Municipal d'Art Mod erne, Paris, November- 
December 1948. 

ttf & 


#> **<•«* 

-• . *->♦*•?; 

82. TVu Tso-jenz Yaks. Ink on paper. Twentieth century. 


brush, the galloping of stallions glimpsed by Chuang-tzu through 
swirling clouds- of dust, the buffaloes, bestial and at the same 
time divine, of the ancient Ch'an painting. 54 

Fu Pao-shih, also 'a fiercely lyrical landscapist', revolutionizes 
and revives the most classical Sung themes while stripping them 
of all banality: as in the reverie of the sage letting his boat drift, 
in a broad and luminous water landscape, with the slow mean- 
derings of a river circling the vertical cliff of a promontory. 

Lien Fong-mien, born in 1906, who worked in Montparnasse 
in 1918, is a landscapist using violent colours juxtaposed with 
incisive art' — a fauvist of Far Asia. 

Ting Yen-yung (born in 1903) revives what would have 
been considered screen subjects not long ago — blades of grass, 
insects and frogs — 'picking them off' with a few touches — a few 
spots — quick, spare, witty. 

So too Ch'i Pai-shih (1859-1948), with his rats and his chicks, 
has reminded us, even in his ripe old age, that humour — a Bud- 
dhist humour full of tenderness for creatures and for things — re- 
mains one of the permanent elements of the Chinese genius. 

The Szechwanese Chang Ta-ch'ien (born in 1889) ranges 
from the painting of flowers (e.g. the giant lotuses of his last 
exhibition in the Cernuschi Museum) to austere defiles in the 
gorges of the Yangtze. 

Among the young' we must mention Wu Tso-jen (*Ou So- 
g£ne') who has brought back from the steppes of the Kokonor 
and the high plateaux of Tibet immense visions of desert spaces, 
endless expanses of snow across which tea caravans plod, wind, 
and stretch away, in which herds of yaks are swallowed up, 
from which at times two monstrous yaks loom forth to engage 
in a duel to the death on the edge of a precipice. Ch'ao Wu-chi, 
whose poignant 'cemetery* we exhibited at the Cernuschi Museum 
(1946) is a Chinese Raoul Dufy. We also call attention to our 

** Cf. Suzuki, The Ten Ox-Herding Pictures (paintings of buffalos by the 
Sung Dhyanist painter Kuo-an Shih-yuan), Kyoto, 1948. 


friends Lii Sha-kuan, former curator of the Hangchow Museum, 
Shu Ling, president of the Chinese artists of Paris, Zao Wu-ki, 
Mrs. Pan Yii-lin and Mrs. Fan Chun-pi, all of whom show a very 
sure and refined talent. 

With Louis Hambis we want also to point to the revival of 
Chinese ceramics, which he had an opportunity to study at the 
last Peking salons (the vases, for example, of the master potter 
Yeh Lin-chih). 55 Finally, in the person of Hua Tieh-yu, China 
has a very great sculptor, whose powerful group 'Mother and 
children under a bombardment' was recently shown at the Cer- 
nuschi Museum. 

It is to be noted that, like Wu Tso-jen, Chang Ta-ch'en and 
Pan Shun-ching have gone to Tun-huang to capture in the 
frescoes of the Wei and the Tang the secret of the old medieval 
schools. Thus the most modern China — a China that is so close 
to us through its affinities with Montparnasse — links up with 
the traditions of the most distant past... 

Through all political changes, eternal China continues. 

Musee Cernuschi, March 30, 1951. 

M Louis Hambis, Ou en est Tart chinois? Le dernier salon de P£kin, in the 
weekly, Arts, May 6, 1949. 



Ch'i-chia-p'ing pottery circa 2500-2200 (pre-Hsia period), according to An- 
dersson; circa 1400-1300 ("Shang period), according to 
G. D. Wu. 

circa 2200-1900 (pre-Hsia period and early Hsia), accord- 
ing to Andersson; circa 1700 (Hsia), according to 
G. D. Wu. 

circa 1900-1700 (Hsia period), according to Andersson; 
circa 1200 (Shang period), according to G. D. Wu. 

Middle Yang-shao period, circa 1900, according to 
Andersson (time of the Hsia); Late Shang, circa 1300- 
1000, according to G. D. Wu. 

circa 1700-1300 (Hsia and early Shang), according to 
Andersson; circa 1000 (early Western Chou), according 
to G. D. Wu. 

circa 1300-1000 (second part and end of Shang period), 
according to Andersson; circa 700 (early Eastern Chou), 
according to G. D. Wu. 

Yang-shao I pottery 

Yang-shao II pottery 
Pan-shan pottery 

Ma-ch'ang pottery 

Hsin-tien pottery 


Hsia (North China) 1989( ?>1523(?) 

Shang (North China) 1523(?)-1028 

(after 1300 assuming the name of Yin dynasty) 

Chou (North - China) 1027-256 

Chronologically divided into: 

1. Western Chou (centre in Shensi) 1027-771 

2. Eastern Chou (centre in Honan) 770-256 

Period of Spring and Autumn Annals (Ch'un-ch'iu) . . 772-481 
Period of Warring States (Chan-kuo) 481-221 


Ch'in (North China unified and racially alien kingdoms of 

South China subjugated) 2210-207 

Han (reign extending over whole of China) 206 B.C-220 a.d. 

Chronologically divided into: 

1. Early Kan (Ch'ien-Han) or Western Han (Hsi- 

HanJ (capital Ch'ang-an, or Hsi-an-fu) .... 206 B.c-8 a.d. 

Wang Mang usurpation 9 a.d-22 a.d. 

2. Later Han (Hou-Han) or Eastern Han (Tung- 
Han) (capital Lo-yang) 25-220 

The Three Kingdoms split China as follows: 

1. Han of Szecbwan (Shu-Han) 221-263 

2. Wei (North China) 220-265 

3. Wu (South China— Nanking) 221-280 

Chin (Ssu-ma family), reigning until 316 over all China . . 265-(420) 
Losing North China to the Tartars in 316, the Cfiin fell 
back on South China. This dynasty therefore chro- 
nologically divided into: 

1. Western Chin (capital Lo-yang), holding sway 

over all China 280-316 

2. Eastern Chin (capital Nanking), pushed back by 

the Tartar invasions to South China .... 317-420 

Period of division between the North and the South or 
Nan-Pei-ch'ao: the North being occupied by the 
Tartars, the South having become the refuge of the 
Chinese national Empire 317-589 

This period corresponds practically to what is called the 
Six Dynasties (Liu-tai) 9 although the latter expres- 
sion covers the entire span 220-589. 

During the Na-Pei-cb'ao, the following five imperial 
dynasties succeeded one another in the South (capital 

1. Eastern Chin (above-mentioned) 317-420 

2. Sung of the Liu family (Liu-Sung) .... 420^479 

3. and 4. Ch'i, 479-501, and Liang 502-556 

5. Ch'en 557-588 

A great number of successive Tartar dynasties in the 
North, including: 

— Several hordes of Hiung-nu (Huns) Chao . . . 316-352 

— Several hordes of Hsien-pei (proto-Mongols), led 

by the Mu-jung clan 349-407 

— The Tartar king Fu Chien 357-385 


— The Tabghach (in Chinese, To-pa\ of Turkish 
race, also called kings of Wei 9 who successively 
annexed the other Tartar kingdoms of North 
China, thus unifying them. This is the dynasty 
of the Northern Wei (Pei-Wei) that within a 

short time reigned over all Northern China . . 398-534 
This dynasty in 534 divided into: 

1. Eastern Wei (Tung-Wei) in Northeast China, 

around Honan 534-550 

2. Western Wei (Hsi Wei) in Northwest China, 

around Shensi 534-557 

succeeded by the following, respectively: 

1. in the Northeast (Honan, etc.) the Pei-Ch'i . . 550-577 

2. in the Northwest (Shensi, etc.) the Pei-Cbou . 557-581 
Sui, from 581 in the North; 

from 589 in the whole of China, which it unified by 
annexing the southern empire of Nanking. The Sui 
capital is Ch'ang-an (Hsi-an-fu) 589-618 

Tang (capital Ch'ang-an or Hsi-an-fu), reigning over all 

China 618-907 

Period of the Five Dynasties (Wu-tai) in the North only 
(capital K'ai-feng), namely: 

1. Hou-Liang 907-923 

2. Hou-T'ang 923-936 

3. Hou-Chin 936-946 

4. Hou-Han 947-950 

5. Hou-Chou 951-959 

In the South during this time, various provincial dynas- 
ties, among which may be mentioned: 

— Wu-Tang, then Nan-Tang in Nanking . . . 902-975 

— Wu-Yueh inChekiang (Hangchow) .... 907-978 

— Nan-Han in Canton 907-965 

Sung 960-1276 

The Sung dynasty chronologically divided into: 

1. Northern Sung (Pei-Sung), capital K'ai-feng, 
reigning practically over all China, which they 

had reunified 960-1127 

2. Southern Sung (Nan-Sung) i reduced by the Tartar 
invasion (of the Chin) to South China (capital 
Hangchow) 1127-1276 

(or 1279) 
In the Far North, in Peking, the Cb'i-tan or Chitat (in 

Chinese, Uad) of Mongol race 936-1122 


In Kansu, the Hsi-Hsia or Tangut, of Tibetan race 

(capital Ning-hsia) 1001-1227 

In all North China (except Kansu) the Djurchet (in Chi- 
nese, Chin), of Tongus (Manchu) race, capitals 
Peking (1122), then K'ai-feng (1214) 1127-1234 

The Mongols descending from Genghiz Khan (in Chi- 
nese, the Yuan dynasty), masters of all China . . 1276-1368 

The accession of the Yuan dynasty can be dated from 
1260, when its founder Kublai, grandson of Genghiz 
Khan, mounted the Mongol throne in conquered 
North China; or from 1276, when Kublai in Hang- 
chow captured the last officially consecrated Sung 
emperor; or from 1279-1280, when Kublai put to 
death the last Sung pretenders in the Cantonese re- 
gion. The Yuan capital is Peking. 

The Ming dynasty, reigned over the whole of China 
(capital Nanking from 1356, then Peking from 
1409) 1368-1644 

Manchu, or Ch'ing, likewise masters of all China (capital 

Peking) 1644-1912 

Chinese Republic 1912 

(capital Peking from 1912, then Nanking from 
1928, and again Peking from 1949). 


abhaya-mudra, see gesture 

adhi-Buddha 191 

agriculture, sedentary 4 

'aircraft views' and landscape painting 

2 5 In. 
alchemy 123 
altars, Buddhist 158, 173; of Heaven, 

Agriculture, Earth, in Peking 290 
Amidism 140, 143, 163, 172, 192, 272-3 
Amitabha (A-mi-t'o) 136, 137, 140, 143, 

156, 163, 166, 268; paintings of 223, 

224, 226, 228 
Amitayus (Wu-liang-shou) 140 
Amoghavajra, Buddhist missionary 191, 

An Lu-shan, leader of revolt (T*ang) 

An Shih-kao, first translator of Buddhist 

scriptures 140, 142 
An-yang, art of 11-30 
Ancestor worship 13, 34, 58, 59, 91 
'animal art' of the steppes 30, 37n., 40, 

44, 47, 52, 102; route of transmission 

of 152 (See also Ordos art) 
animal representation, on bronzes 17-25, 

26-30, 32, 33, 37n., 38, 52, 84; on 

lacquer 82; on Han reliefs 87, 90, 93; 

in statuettes 94, 95, 96, 98, 105, 128, 

129, 211; on pottery 6, 105, 106; on 

murals 133; on steles 164; on mirrors 

apsaras 158, 167, 168, 173, 182, 217n„ 

220, 222, 287 
architecture 238, 275, 290, 292 
arhat (lo-han), Buddhist saints 150, 

166; portraits of 235, 268n., 271, 

Asanga, Buddhist metaphysician 183 

Astana, tombs of 209, 21 On., 211 
Avalokitesvara (Kuan-yin) 136, 137, 
156, 163; transformation of into 
Kuan-yin 268; paintings of 219, 225, 
228, 229, 287; wood-cut of 297 
Avars l64n., 221 

Baichajyaguru 223 

bamboo, the painting of 271, 295 

'Bamboo Annals, The' 4n. 

Bamiyan l49n., 150, 215 

'Barbary Road', the 151-2 

bas-reliefs, see reliefs 

battle scenes, on Han reliefs 90 

bells (chung) 33, 37, 39 

belt buckles 100, 101 

Bezeklik 21 In., 217-18, 224 

Bhaisajya, painting of 228 

bkutatatbata 190, 191, 243 

birds 20, 38, 44, 45, 93, 222, 258 

'birds and flowers' in painting 236; in 
prints 298, 307; on porcelain 305 

blanc-de-Chine porcelain 295, 300 

Blue-and-white porcelain 293, 295, 304 

Bodhidharma 146, 147, 235 

Bodhisattvas 134, 135, 136, 137, 141; 
statues of 155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 
160, 161, 166, 167, 168, 174, 175, 
187, 188, 189, 190; paintings of 218, 
222, 223, 224, 226, 229, 286, 298 
(See also under Avalokitesvara, K?i- 
tigarbha, Maitreya, Manjusri, Saman- 
tabhadra, Vajrapani) 

Bodhisri, Buddhist missionary 172 

Boxers (Ch'uan-fei) 308n. 

bronze: chariot ornaments 24, 42; cul- 
tures 10, 11; harness adornments 24, 



48; technique, transmission of to Chi- 
na 11, 12, 13; technique, regional 
schools in 74; vases and vessels: 
Shang 6-8, 13, 14, 15-23, 26-30; Yin- 
Chou transitional 31-2; Middle Chou 
32-4; 'Huai' or 'Warring States' style 
36-40, 43-52, 68, 80; Han 84-6, 103; 
Ming 291. Weapons 24-5, 29, 30, 
42, 47, 48 

Buddhabhadra, Buddhist missionary 146 

Buddhas 134, 135, 136, 137, 141, 142, 
190; statues of 150, 154, 155, 158, 
159, 161, 162, 165, 168, 173, 188; 
paintings of 182, 222, 223, 224, 286 
(See also under Amitabha, Sakyamu- 
ni, Vairocana) 

Buddhism: and *Silk Road* 78; as a 
religion of salvation 120, 137, 166; 
transformation of into a new religion 
134, 137, 138; propagation of 135, 
138, 140, 141-8; and Taoism 141-4, 
156, 274; Chinese 148; and Confu- 
cianism 144, 180, 204, 274; antipathy 
to and prohibitions against 149, 170, 
180, 181, 204-5, 238; furthering of 
and favour towards 149, 170, 184, 
185, 273, 284; Chinese, history of 
185; disappearance of in India 239; 
Tantric 190 (See also Amidism, 
Ch'an, Tien-t'ai, White Lotus) 

Buddhist apologetics 142, 143, 144; 

— art 134, 141, 149-151, 153-162, 
164-9, 172-5, 182, 183, 186-190, 
192-4, 215-220, 222-230, 286, 287, 
298; — caves 149-151, 153, 157, 
159, 161, 165, 166, 168, 172, 181, 
182, 186, 215-16, 221-2, 225-230; 

— iconography 134, 135, 136, 156, 
184; — • scriptures 179, 180, 181, 
183; — scriptures, translation of 140, 
141, 145, 146, 148, 184, 185 

Buddhistic communities 78, 139, 140; 
admittance of to China in Taoist 
disguise 142 

camels 128, 129, 207, 208, 212, 219 

caves, see Buddhist caves 

celadons (cb'ing-tz'u) 127-8, 280-1, 

288, 293 
Chang Chiao and Chang Lu, founders 

of Taoist church 111 

Chang Fei, Three Kingdoms hero 115 
Chang Seng-yu, Six Dynasties painter 

Chang Ta-chien, present-day painter 

312, 313 
ceramics, see pottery 
Ch'an Buddhism, beginnings of 146-7; 
and Taoism 147, 249; and art 162, 
235, 236, 249-51, 265-8, 284, 306; 
and Wang Yang-ming 301, 307 
Ch'ang-an, Han capital 69, 114; a cen- 
tre of Buddhism 145, 146; Sui capital 
170; rang capital 180, 184, 186, 
193, 200, 202, 205, 212, 234; Sog- 
dian trade colony at 221 
Chao Meng-fu, Yuan painter 285-6 
Chao Po-chu, Sung painter 261 
Chao Ta-nien, Sung painter 255 
Ch'ao Wu-chi, present-day painter 313 
cben-jen, True Man 1 , Taoist term used 
by early translators for arhat 142 
Chen Shu-jen, modern painter 312 
Chen-yen-tsung, Tantric Buddhist sect 

Ch'en Hung, writer of romances 203 
Ch'en Tu-hsiu, promoter of language 

reform 310 
Ch'en Tzu-ang, T'ang poet 197 
Ch'eng Hao and Ch'eng I, Sung philo- 
sophers 243 
Ch'i Pai-shih, present-day painter 313 
Ch'i-tan (Khitai) Tartars, founders of 
Liao dynasty 236, 258-261, 273, 274 
cbia, type of bronze vase 15, 16, 27 
Chia-ch'ing, Ch'ing emperor 272, 290, 

Chiang Kai-shek 311 
Chiang Ts'an, Sung painter 261 
cbiang, halberd 24, 26 
Cbieb-tzu y&an hua-cbuan, 'Manual of 

the Mustard-seed Garden' 297 
chien ware (pottery) 281 
Chien-an poetry 113, 114 
Cb'ien Han Shu, •History of Early 

Han* 80 
Ch'ien Hsiian, Yuan painter 28 5n. 
Ch'ien-lung, Ch'ing emperor 272, 303 
cbib, type of bronze vase 28 
Chih Ch'ien, translated life of Sakya- 

muni 142 
Chih-i, founder of the T'ien-t'ai sect 
148, 171 



Chin, dynasty founded by the Ssu-ma 
family 107, 117, 118, 122 

Chin, dynasty founded by the Ju-chen 
260, 273-6 

Chin Nung, Ch'ing painter 306 

Cbin-p'ing-mei, Ming novel 302 

Ch'in, kingdom of 64, 65 

Ch'in dynasty 66-8 

Ch'in Shih Huang-ti, Ch'in emperor 66, 
67, 70 

Ching Hao, Five Dynasties painter 236 

Ching-te-chen, centre of ceramic pro- 
duction 292, 293 

Ch'ing dynasty (Manchu) 303-310 

Chou dynasty 30-64, 65, 66 

Chou Li, the 'Rites of Chou' 51, 56, 

Chou Tun-i, Sung philosopher 242-3 

Chou Wen-chu, Five Dynasties painter 

Chu Hsi, Sung philosopher 239-40, 
243-6, 252, 301, 307 

Chu-ko Liang, Three Kingdoms states- 
man 115 

Chii-lu-hsien ware (pottery) 279 

Ch*u Yuan, poet 57 

cb'uan-cb'i, type of drama 301 

Chuang-tzu 60, 61, 110, 202, 242, 251, 
268, 313 

cbueb, type of bronze vase 15, 16, 22 

Ch'un-cbiu, 'Spring and Autumn An- 
nals* 36, 57, 58, 240 

chun ware (pottery) 281, 288 

Chung Jen, Sung painter 271 

Chung-ch'ang Tung, moralist 108, 114 

Chung-tsung, Tang emperor 185 

Church, Taoist 110, 111 

cicada 21, 28 

clouds 82, 85, 99, 158, 217n., 218; 
and dragons 89, 206, 267 

colour, Tang love of 231, 232, 236; 
revived under Ming 291; Iran king- 
dom of 292 

Communist government established 311 

Confucian classics 62, 63, 64; destruc- 
tion ordered by Ch'in emperor 67; 
engraved on stone 70, 179; Liu 
Hsiang's edition of 71; become the 
Confucian canon 79; Tang commen- 
taries on 179; printed 180; Sung 
interpretations of 239-40; Ch'ing crit- 
icism of 307-8 

Confucianism, early 61, 62, 63; re-birth 
in Han 70; new orthodoxy 71; State 
'socialism* derived from 76, 241; in 
opposition to reform 77; Sui hostility 
to 170; in Tang times 179; Sung 
return to (Neo-Confucianism) 239- 
246; modernization of 308, 309 

Confucianist scholars, and the 'man- 
darinate' 70; and administration 71; 
in opposition to Later Han 109; dis- 
credited during Six Dynasties 120; 
take refuge at Nanking 122; in Tang 
times 179, 180, 204; in Sung times 
239-41, 242; in Ch'ing times 307-8 

Confucianist school, Ch'in antipathy to 
67; conformity in later Han 108; and 
Chu Hsi 244 

Confucius (K'ung Fu-tzu) 62, 240, 242, 

cosmology 53-6, 60 

costume 92, 93, 98, 129, 130, 131, 164, 
175, 196, 209, 210, 215, 218, 228, 
235, 287, 299; of Buddhas and Bodhi- 
sattvas 154-7, 173, 174, 187, 224, 

court, of Ch'ang-an 178, 194, 197, 200, 
207, 208, 212, 216, 231; of Nanking 
124, 125, 132, 133 

court poetry 125 

courts, provincial 235, 236 

criticism of society 197, 201, 202 

Dandanoilik 21, 223 

demonology, Taoist 219 

dharmakaya 190, 191 

dbyana 146 (See also Ch'an) 

dhyani-Buddha 136 

Dinagupta, Buddhist missionary 170n. 

divination 13, 14, 53, 54, 83 

dragons 12, 17, 18n., 19, 20, 21, 24, 
26, 27, 28, 32, 33, 38, 39, 41, 42, 
43, 51, 52, 81, 83, 84, 89, 93, 99, 
100, 133, 167, 206, 214, 267-8 

drama, Yuan 284; Ming 301 

drapery on statues 153, 154-9, 164-5, 
167, 187-190 

drums 12, 49 

dvarapala, temple-garden genie 168, 
193, 211, 218n. 

enamels in porcelain 294, 304-5 
ethics, Confucian 63, 64, 80 




Europe, cultural comparisons with 7, 
157, 160, 174 

examination system for entry into civil 
service, origin 71; Tang reinstitution 
of 179; reformed by Wang An-shih 
241; lapsed under Mongols and re- 
established under Ming 291, 301 

Fa-cbia, see School of Jurists 
fa-hsiang, school of Buddhist philoso- 
phy 183 
Fa Hsien, Buddhist pilgrim 148-9 
fabrics, see textiles 
jamille noire porcelain 305 
jamille rose porcelain 305 
jamille verte porcelain 304-5 
Fan Chun-pi, Mrs., present-day painter 

Fan Chung-yen, Neo-Confucianist 240 
Fan Kuan, Sung painter 252-3 
Fan Yueh-yu, present-day painter 312 
Fan Shih-shu, Ch'ing painter 306 
Feng-huan funerary pillar 92 
Feng-shen yen-i, Ming historical novel 

figurines 6, 24, 98, 128 (See also terra- 
cottas, statuettes) 
Five Dynasties, period of 235-8 
flowers in ornamentation 206, 207, 218; 

paintings of 271, 313 
Fo-t'u-teng, Buddhist missionary 120 
'Forbidden City' (Tzu-chin-ch'eng) 275, 

290, 303 
Four (or Five) Directions, animals of 

the 55n., 133 
Four Directions, guardian kings of the, 

see lokapala 
friezes, on bronze vases 50-52 
Fondukistan 217 
Fu I, Confucian scholar 180 
Fu Pao-shih, present-day painter 313 

Gandhara, art of 139, 153, 162 
Genghis Khan 275, 283, 288 
gestures and canonical attitudes of Bud- 
dhist statues 299; abhaya-mudra 155, 
157n., 161, 168, 173, 193; latitasana 
187; lilasana 232; maharajalila 273; 
tribhanga 187; vara-mudra 157n. 
gilt plaster ornaments 298 
glass 103 

glazes 104, 213, 214, 277-282, 293 

Grand Canal, the 171 

Great Invasions, the 107, 117, 118 

Hadda 153, 161, 182, 209n. 

haloes 154, 155, 173, 174 

Han dynasty 69-106, 107; fall of 108- 

Han Kan, Tang painter 227 
Han Kao-tsu, Han emperor 70. 
Han Shan-t'ung, White Lotus leader 


Han style in art, characteristics of 81, 
82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 93, 96, 101, 

Han Wu-ti, Han emperor 70, 71, 73, 
74, 75 

Han Yu, Tang prose-writer 180n., 

Hangchow, Sung capital 238, 260, 261, 
265, 267, 278, 283 

hermits 202, 284, 285 

'hill-jars', Han 104, 105, 106; and Ku 
K'ai-chih 132 

historical writing 57, 58, 74, 75, 80, 
241, 245-6, 307-8 

Ho Ch'u-ping, tomb of 72 

horses, a motif from Siberian art 46; 
Han statue of 72; brought from Fer- 
ghana 73, 97; on Han reliefs 90; 
sacrificial use of 94; statuettes of 96, 
129; wooden statues of 96-7; on steles 
164; on Korean murals 133; Tang 
194-5, 206, 209, 211, 212, 227; Tar- 
tar 259; Yuan 285-6; in modern art 

HSryuji, temple at Nara 223-5 

Hsi-hsia (Tangut) Tibetan tribe and 
kingdom 229, 230, 260, 283 

Hsi K'ang, Six Dynasties poet 121, 122 

Hsi-yu-cbi, Ming novel about Hsiian- 
tsang's travels 302 

Hsi-yii'Chi, Hsiian-tsang's book of tra- 
vels 184 

Hsia dynasty 4, 7, 58 

Hsia Ch'ang, Ming painter 295 

Hsia Kuei, Sung painter 264-5 

Hsiang-t'ang-shan caves 166 

Hsiao Tung, compiler of Wen Hsiian 

Hsieh Ling-yiin, Six Dynasties poet 123 

Hsieh Tiao, Six Dynasties poet 124 



Hsien-tsung, T'ang emperor 204 
Hsin T'ang sbu 9 'New History of Tang* 

Hsing-tsung (Yeh-lii Tsung-chen), Ch'i- 

tan king, tomb of 259, 260 
Hsu Hsi, Five Dynasties painter 236 
Hsu Pei-wong (Jup6on), present-day 

painter 312 
Hsu Ta-tsang, modern painter 312 
Hsu Tao-ning, Sung painter 252 
Hsu. Wei, Ming painter and poet 296 
Hsiian-te, Ming emperor 290; as painter 

Hsiian-tsang, Buddhist pilgrim 181-5, 

194, 244n., 302. 
Hsuan-tsung, T'ang emperor 178, 194, 

198, 199, 200, 201, 203, 208, 210, 

212, 215, 227, 284; drawn to Taoism 

Hsiin-tzu, philosopher 64 
bu, type of bronze vase 34, 45, 50, 52, 

86, 104, 105 
Hu, queen of the T'o-pa Wei 151, 287 
Hu Kuei, Five Dynasties painter, 236, 

Hu Shih, promoter of language reform 

Hua kuang met p'u, treatise on plum- 
blossom 271 
Hua sbuo, treatise on painting 297 
Hua T*ieh-yu, present-day sculptor 314 
Hua-yen Buddhist sect 146 
Hua yu lu, treatise on painting 306 
Huang Ch'ao, leader of peasant revolt 

Huang Ch'iian, Five Dynasties painter 

Huang Kung-wang, Yuan painter 285 
Huang Ting, Ch'ing painter 306 
Hui-li, Buddhist pilgrim 184 
Hui-neng, Ch'an patriarch 147, 249, 266 
Hui-tsung, Sung emperor 257-8, 260 
Hui Tung, Clving scholar 307 
Hui-yiian, founder of White Lotus sect 

Hulagu 288 
humour 284, 300, 313 
Hung-wu, Ming emperor 289, 290, 292 
Huns, 47, 481; Great Wall built against 

67; campaigns against 71-2; and Ts'ai 

Yen's poem 114 

hunting scenes 45, 50, 51, 85, 90, 207, 

208, 227n., 285; in poetry 75 
buo t type of bronze vase 20n. 

/ (equity) 62, 64 9 79, 80, 204 

/, type of bronze vase 15, 22, 32 

I-cbing, book of divination 54, 240, 

I-ching, Buddhist pilgrim 184 

/-//, book on ritual 51, 56 

I-tsung, T'ang emperor 205 

illumination of the Ch'an, 'abrupt' and 
'gradual' methods 147 

immortality, quest for 121, 123, 142 

Immortals, Taoist (bsieri) 121, 300 

"Imperial City' (Huang-ch'eng) 290 

imperialism, Han 71-4, 77-8, 138; Tang 
178-9, 193, 194; Ming 291 

India 134, 137, 138, 181, 182, 183, 
184, 185, 239 

Indian art 135-6, 139, 152-3, 182, 183, 
187, 189 

Influence, Chinese, on Siberian art 11, 
29, 30, 47; on early non-Chinese 
kingdoms of South China 35, 48, 49; 
in Indo-China 73, 74; in Korea 73, 
74, 105, 133; on Japanese art 262, 
270; on Persian pottery 277 

— on Chinese art, Siberian 11, 12, 46, 
47; Graeco-Buddhist 101, 139, 152, 
153, 156, 161, 182, 219; Indian 153, 
165, 167, 168, 169, 182-3, 187-9, 
215, 216, 224, 229; Tartar 164, 274, 
284; Sassanid-Iranian 182, 208, 214, 
215-16, 217, 221; Iranian 218, 219, 
220, 276-7; Buddhist 162, 163, 166, 
183, 185-9, 190-4, 201, 232 (See also 
Ch'an and T'ien-t'ai); Tantric 218, 
219; of T'ang imperialism 190, 192, 
193, 197; Taoist 201; Central Asiatic 
222, 223, 224; of Ming conservatism 
291; of Mongol 'pan-Asianism' 288, 

Influences: Roman on Turkestan 78; 
Graeco-Roman on Buddhist art 139; 
Iranian on Buddhism 140, 143; West- 
ern in China and the Far East 307, 
308. — , fusion of : instanced by T*ao 
Yuan-ming 122, and by Liang Wu-ti 
127; Chinese and Indian in art 158; 
in Sui times 171; Buddhist, Taoist 




and Confucian in Chinese thought 
and religion 239, 242-5, 252, 257; 
Buddhist and Taoist 272-3; East- 
West synthesis 312 

ink (Indian), use of in painting 248, 

inlay work 42, 43, 85, 100, 103, 207-8 

inscriptions, on bones 14; on mirrors 
83, 126; on Buddhist statues 160 

Iran, China's relations with under 
Mongols 288; under Ming 292 

Islam 239 

ivory statuettes 299-300 

jade, neolithic 6, 13, 35n.; Shang 19, 
21, 24, 25, 26; Warring States 43; 
Han 101 

Japanese art 174-5, 207, 208, 210-11, 
213n., 2l4n., 223-5, 261, 262, 264 

Japanese invasion 311 

jataka 226 

jen (altruism) 62, 64, 204 

ju ware (pottery) 278 

Ju-chen, a Tungus (Tartar) tribe, foun- 
ders of the Chin dynasty (q.v.) 260-1 

Ju-cbzao, see Confucianist school 

Jupeon, see Hsu Pei-wong 

Jurists, school of 64, 65, 67; return to 

K'ai-feng, capital of North China 234, 
237; Sung capital 238, 258, 260, 278 

K'ang-hsi, Ch'ing emperor 303 

K'ang Seng-hui, Sogdian Buddhist mis- 
sionary 140 

K'ang Yu-wei, Ch'ing scholar and re- 
former 308, 309 

Kanaka, Indo-Scythian ruler 138 

Kao Ming, Ming dramatist 301 

Kao-tsung, T*ang emperor 178, 186, 
194, 195 

Kara-Khital, branch of the Ch'i-tan, as 
link between China and Iran 277 

Karashar, caves of 182, 209n., 21 In. 

Karasuk culture 11, 12, 29, 30, 46, 47 

Kasyapa, on bronze altar 173; painting 
of 225 

klnuta, Japanese term for celadons of 
superior quality 280 

ko, dagger-axe 24, 26, 51 

ko ware (pottery) 278-9, 280-1 

Ko Hung, alchemist 123 

k'o-ssu silk tapestries 276-7 

Korea, part conquered by Han 73, 80, 

81; art of 74, 81, 82, 99, 132, 133, 

Ksitigarbha (Ti-tsang) 136; paintings 

of 225, 228n. 
ku, type of bronze vase 15, 16 
Ku K'ai-chih, Six Dynasties painter 

131; and T'ang painting 164 
Ku Huan, polemicist against Buddhism 

Ku Yen-Wy, Ch'ing scholar 307 
kuan ware (pottery) 278-9, 281 
Kuan Hsiu, Five Dynasties painter 235 
Kuan Tung, Five Dynasties painter 236 
Kuan Yin, feminine transformation of 

Avalokitesvara 268, 273-4; paintings 

of 232, 269, 298; statues of 273, 286; 

ivory statuettes of 299; porcelain 

statuettes of 300 
Kuan-yin Sutra, illustrated edition of 

Kuan Yii, Three Kingdoms hero 115 
kuang, type of bronze vase 15, 18n. 
Kuang Hsu, Ch'ing emperor 309 
Kublai Khan 275, 283-4, 288 
'Kuchean civilization' 215 
kuei, type of bronze vase 16, 22, 32 
iW (dragon) 19, 21, 26 
Kumarajiva 145 
Kumtura 196, 209n., 215, 217 
KWts'an, Ch'ing painter 306 
Kung-ch'an-tang, Communist Party 311 
Kung-hsien, Ch'ing painter 306 
kung-ti, 'palace' style in poetry 124 
Kung-sun Yang, School of Jurists writer 

64, 65 
K'ung Ying-ta, Confucian scholar 179 
Kuo Hsi, Sung painter 253-5 
Kuo-min-tang, Nationalist Party 310, 

Kuo Mo-jo 311 
Kysil, caves and art of 182, 196, 215-16, 


laquer 42, 43, 49, 81, 82, 99, 102, 103 
lalitasana, see gestures 
Lamaistic Temple, Peking 290, 303 
Lan Ying, Ming painter 296 



landscape, see painting 

language' reform 310 

Lao-tzu 60, 143, 144, 147 

lei wen motif on bronzes 16, 28, 29 

// tripod, type of bronze vase 6, 15, 

17n., 18n. 
//.(the rites, propriety) 79, 80 
Li Ch'ang-heng, Ming painter and schol- 
ar 297 
Li Chao-tao, Tang painter 231 
Li Ch'ao-wei, writer of romances 203 
Li Chen, painter 19 In. 
Li Ch'eng, Five Dynasties painter 236 
U'cbi 56 
Li Hsi stele 91 

Li Lung-mien, Sung painter 256-7 
Li Shih-min (Emperor Tai-tsung of 

Tang) 177, 203 
Li Ssu-hsun, Tang painter 231 
Li Tai-po (Li Po), Tang poet 198-200, 

208, 209, 212, 266 
Li Yu, Ch'ing art critic 297 
Li Yuan, first Tang emperor (Kao-tsu) 

177, 180 
liiasana, see gestures 
Liang, dynasty in South China 124 
Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, Ch'ing historian and 

reformer 309 
Liang K'ai, Sung painter 266-7 
Liang Wu-ti, Southern ruler 124, 127, 

287; converted to Buddhism 145 
Liao, dynasty founded by the Ch'i-tan 

Lieb-tzu, 60, 61 

Lien Fong-mien, present-day painter 313 
Un ch'uan kao-chib, treatise on painting 

Lin Shu, translator of Western novels 

into Chinese 308 
lions 97n., 126, 127, 196, 206 
Liu Hsiang, Confucian scholar 71 
Liu Ling, Six Dynasties poet 122 
Liu Pang, founder of the Han dynasty 

(Kao-tsu) 69 
Liu Pei, Three Kingdoms ruler of 

Szechwan 115 
Liu Sung-nien, Sung painter 265 
Liu Tsung-yuan, Tang writer of poetic 

prose 202 
Liu Ts'ung, Hun king 119 
Lo Pen, Ming novelist 301-2 
Lo Pin-wang, Tang poet 197 

lokapala (t'ien-wang), guardians of the 

Four Directions 166, 192, 211, 218n., 

228, 297 
Lo-yang, Chou capital 31, 34; Later Han 

capital 77, 109; Chin capital 122; 

site of first Buddhist community 140; 

Wei capital 150; Sui capital 171; 

pillaged 234 
Lu Chao-lin, Tang poet 197 
Lu Chi, Six Dynasties poet 122 
Lu Chih, Tang writer 234 
Lu Te-ming, Confucian scholar 179 
Lu Yiin, Six Dynasties poet 122 
Lu Sha-kuan, present-day painter 314 
Lung-ch'uan celadons 280-1, 288 
Lung-men caves 150, 151, 157, 158, 

159, 160, 164, 172, 186, 188, 192. 
luxury and luxury products 10, 43, 79, 

99, 100, 103, 107, 109, 152, 173, 

205, 207, 209 

Ma Chou, Tang minister 180 

Ma K'uei, Sung painter 262 

Ma Lin, Sung painter 263-4 

Ma Yuan, Sung painter 262 

magic 12, 13, 17n., 22, 45, 50, 51, 52, 
54, 60, 61, 94, 123, 137 

tnaharajalila, see gestures 

Mahayana, the 'Great Vehicle of Salva- 
tion* 143 

Maitreya (Mi-lo-fo), as 'Messiah' 135, 
136, 166, 273, 289; statues of 156, 
159, 168; paintings of 223, 230, 287 

Manichean art 218, 219 

Manicheism 220 

Manchus 303 

Manjusn (Wen-shu-shih-Ii) 136; pain- 
tings of 232, 287 

Mao Tse-tung 311 

Mao Tzu-yuan, founder of the society 
of the White Lotus 271-2 

Marco Polo 261, 284 

masks 17, 22, 23, 43, 50, 51 

Mencius (Meng-tzu) 63, 245, 301 

Meng Hao-jan, Tang poet 201 

Mi Fei, Sung painter 255 

militarism of the Tang 201 

mille fleurs porcelain 305 

Ming, Chinese dynasty 275, 289-302 

ming-c&i y see terra-cottas 

miniatures 218. 220 



mirrors, Warring States 39, 40-43; Han 

82-4, 85; Six Dynasties 125, 126; 
T'ang 97, 205-8 
missionaries, Buddhist 78, 120, 135, 

138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 155, 

156, 163, 170n., 172 
mist (in painting) 251, 253, 254, 262 

263, 264, 296 
Mo Shih-lung, Ming painter, 297 
Mo-tzu, philosopher 63 
'Mohammedan blue' (bui-cfting), cobalt 

used in pottery-making 288, 293 
monasteries (convents) l47n., 180, 184, 

monasticism, measures against 204-5, 

233, 238 
monks 144, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 

153, 175n., 181; in art 173, 174, 287; 

as painters 252, 267, 284, 306 
Mongols 274, 275, 276, 283, 286, 288, 

289 (See also Yuan) 
monochrome: pottery 291, 293, 304, 

305; — wash-drawing 201 (See also 

painting, landscape) 
Mou-tzu, apologist for Buddhism 143, 

mountains (in painting) 251, 252, 253, 

254, 261,' 262, 263, 264, 265, 296 
Mu-ch'i, Sung painter 267-270 
Mu-lan, heroine of epic ballad 125, 130 
Mu tan t'ing, 'The Pavilion of Peonies', 

Ming play 301 
Murtuk 217-18 

musical instruments 207-8, 209 
mythology, and metallurgy 12, 13; and 

masks 17; and dragons 19, 20, 268; 

on bronzes 50, 51, 52; on Han reliefs 

87-9; on Han funerary pillars 92; in 

Six Dynasties art 125, 126 

nskfalra (feminine moon divinities) 
219, 220 

Nanking, capital of South China 107, 
118, 119, 124, 132, 133; Buddism 
preached in 140; centre of movement 
against Mongols 289; under T'ai- 
p'ing 308 

Narendrayasa, Buddhist missionary 

naval ventures under Ming 291 

Neo-Confucianism, see Confucianism 

Nestorian art 221 

Nestorianism 220 

Ni Tsan, Yuan painter 285 

Ning-tsung, Sung emperor 264 

nirvana 137, 142 

North China, region of paleolithic and 
neolithic sites 3; where Chinese agri- 
culture originated 4; where Shang 
and Chou dynasties reigned 31, 35; 
invaded by Tartars 107, 117; under 
Huns or Tartars 119, 129, 130, 131, 
273-6; takes to Buddhism 145; re- 
united with South 170, 178, 238, 311; 
separated from South 234, 260, 310 

Northern School of painting 232, 236 

novels 301-2 

nude, the, and semi-nude 165, 187-9, 

oases of the 'Silk Road' 73, 77, 138, 
139, 141, 152, 181, 215-221 

Ogodai 283 

Opium War 309 

Qrdos art 45, 47, 48 (See also 'animal 

Ou Sogene, see Wu Tso-jen 

Ou-yang Hsiu, Sung scholar 239, 240, 
241, 246 

Pa-ta Shan-jen, Ch'ing painter 306 
pagodas 151, 193-4, 238, 239n., 275, 

Padmapani, statues of 155, 160 
painting : academies of : T'u Hua Yuan 
(Sung) 258, 261, 265, 266, 271; Aca- 
demy of Fine Arts of Peking 312. 
— , landscape : elements of on Li Hsi 
stele 91, and on Han pottery 105-6; 
Sung, anticipated by Six Dynasties 
poetry 123, 125; in Ku K'ai-chih's 
scroll 132; in Wang Wei's poetry 
201; in inlay work 208; in murals 
222, 226, 227; T'ang 231; Sung 
monochrome 232, 236, 237, 247-8, 
250-6, 261-70; Yuan 285; Ming 291, 
296; on porcelain 305; Ch'ing 306; 
present-day 313. — , Ming styles in 
295-6. — , portrait 228, 231, 235, 
257, 260, 266-7, 270-1, 284-5, 296. 



— , treatises on 254, 271, 297, 306. 
— , architectural 256 

paintings: mural 25, 78, 102, 132-3, 
139, 164, 182, 196, 211n., 215-230, 
259-60, 275-6, 286-8, 298; as origin- 
als of reliefs 91-2; on bricks 91-2; 
scrolls 131-2, 231-2, 253, 255, 261, 
264, 269; on silk 189n., 191n., 225, 
228, 229, 237, 258, 263, 264; on 
screen-panels 210; on wood 219; mi- 
litary 227, 228, 236; of 'flowers and 
birds' 236; of flowers 271; on fans 
253, 255, 262, 263, 265 

paleolithic series 3 

pantheons 121, 123, 134-7 

Pan Chao, Pan Ku, historians 80 

Pan Ch'ao. Han general 77, 78, 138 

Pan Yii-lin, Mrs., present-day painter 

p'an-cb'e ornamentation on bronzes 39 

paradises 135, 137, 143, 146, 156, 163, 
168, 224, 225, 226, 228, 231, 287, 
297, 298 

Paramartha 148 

Pasyryk culture 102 

peasant risings 77, 111, 112, 116, 234 

Pei-ch'i, Northern dynasty 131, 164-9 

'Peking Man' (Sinanthropus PekJn- 
ensis) 3 

Peking, under Tartars 258, 260, 273, 
274; capital of China 283, 284, 289, 
290, 303, 309, 311 

perspective in Chinese painting 91, 132, 
248-9, 251n., 255 

phoenix 20, 206 

pi, jade disc, symbol of 'Heaven* 6, 26, 
35n., 43 

pise yao ware (pottery) 238 

P'i-p'a cbi, The Guitar', Ming play 301 

pilgrimages of Buddhist monks 148, 
149, 181-5 

plaques 11, 37, 46 9 48, 221 

Po Chii-i, Tang poet 202 

poetry, Chou 56, 57; Han 75; of Chien- 
an period 113, 114; in Six Dynasties 
121-125; Tang 197, 198-202; Sung 

polo 212 

porcelain 213, 237, 304-5 

Polychromy, see colour 

Pordenone, Odoric de 261 

pottery, neolithic 5-9, 16, 17n., 35n.; 

Shang 14, 15, 17n., 19; regional 
school of 74; Han 104; of Lamma 
Islands 105, 106; of Six Dynasties 
127-8; Tang 213-14; Five Dynasties 
237-8; Sung 277-282; Yuan 288; 
Ming 291, 292-5; contrast between 
Sung and Ming 294-5; Ch'ing 304-6; 
present-day 314; export of 280, 293. 
(See also porcelain.) 

pretty women, in Chinese poetry 124, 
212; statuettes of 98, 130, 210, 299; 
paintings of 131, 215, 228, 236, 287 

printing, discovery of 179, 180; of clas- 
sics 180; of Hsin Tang shu 246 

prints 297-8, 306-7 

prose 197, 203, 246; — , poetic 202 

realism, in bronzes 17, 19, 32, 44 9 205, 

206; in sculpture 23, 90, 95, 96, 190, 

195, 211, 212 
reformist programme of K'ang Yu-wei 

reliefs, Han 45, 52, 82, 86-91, 92-3; 

Buddhist 157, 158, 168, 182, 189, 

192; Tang 194-5, 196; Tartar 259 
religion of salvation, Taoism as a 110, 

111, 120, 121, 138; Buddhism as a 

120, 137, 138 
religion 'of light' (Iranian) 140, 143, 

republic established 310 
revolts 201, 233, 272, 303, 308 
revolution of 1911-12, 310 
rites and ritual 56 
ritual types of bronze vases 6, 15 
romances 203 
Rome, comparisons with 57, 73, 74, 

108, 126; links with 78, 79 
Russia, cultural comparisons with 5, 6 

Sakyamuni 135, 142, 144, 156; statues 

of 154, 155, 157, 180-1; paintings of 

223, 232, 266-7 
Samantabhadra (P'u-hsien) 136; statue 

of 189n.; painting of 232 
San Hsing, the three Gods of Happiness 

San-kuo-chih yen-i, Ming historical 

novel 301 
San min chu /, Sun Yat-sen's Three 

Principles of Democracy 310 



san-ts'ai, 'three colour* porcelain 292 

sang-de-bceuf pottery 304 

Sangrim, mural paintings of 219 

satire 108, 114 

scholars, see Confucian ist scholars. 

sculpture, styles of in Wei period 153, 
156-162; Pei-ch'i style 164-9; Sui 
style 172-4; decadence of under Ming 
290; present-day 314; — , bronze, 
Yin-Chou 27-8; Middle Chou 32-3; 
Warring States 44; Han 94, 96, 97; 
Wei Buddhist 154-5, 157-8; Sui 
173-4. — , stone, Shang 23-4; lack 
of in Chou 31; Han 72; Six Dynasties 
126-7; Wei Buddhist 151, 153, 157, 
159, 160, 161, 162; Pei-ch'i 165-9; 
Sui 172-3, 174; Tang 180-1, 186- 
190, 192-3, 194-7; Indian, brought 
to China by Hsuan-tsang, 183-4; Five 
Dynasties 235; Sung 273; Ming 290. 
— , wood 49, 96, 193, 273, 276, 286. 
— , stucco 182, 216, 217 (See also 
figurines, reliefs, steles, statuettes, 

sea routes 78, 140, 153, 184-5 

secret societies 272-3, 289, 308n. 

shan-shut, Chinese term for landscape 
236 (See under painting, landscape.) 

Shan T*ao, Six Dynasties poet 122 

Shang or Shang-Yin dynasty 4, 7, 9-30 

Shao Yung, Sung philosopher 242 

Shen funerary pillar 92, 93 

Shen Chi-chi, author of T>ream of the 
Pillow' 203 

Shen Chou, Ming painter 295-6 

Shen-hsiu, Ch'an patriarch 147 

Shen-hui, Ch'an patriarch 147 

Shen-tsung, Sung emperor 241 

Shibi culture 102 

Shih-chi 75 

Shik-cbing 56, 57, 239, 240, 245 

Shin k'o, Five Dynasties painter 235 

Shih-t'ao, Ch'ing painter 306 

Shih-tsung, Hou-Chou emperor 237-8 

Shorchuk 217 

Sh5s5-in, imperial treasury of Nara 
206-8, 209, 210, 276 

Shu-ching 57, 239, 240 

Shu Fu Yao, Yuan official ware (pot- 
tery) 288 

Shu Ling, present-day painter 312, 314 

Siberia, see influence 

•Silk Road* 7, 73, 77, 78, 79, 103, 138, 
139, 152, 181, 183, 184, 220, 222, 

Sino-Japanese War 309 

sites of excavations: An-yang (Shang) 
10, Ch'ang-sha (Warring States) 48, 
Chao-ch'eng-ts'un (Han) 90, Ch'eng- 
tzu-yai (neolithic) 6, 8, Ch'i-chia- 
p'ing (neolithic) 5, Chin-ts'un (War- 
ring states) 37, 41, Chou-k'ou-tien 
(paleolithic) 3, Hou-kang (neolithic) 

5, Hsiao-t'ang-shan (Han) 86, Hsiao- 
t'un (neolithic and Shang) 8, 10, 
Hsin-cheng (Warring States) 36, Ku- 
shih-hsien (Warring States) 36, Li 
Fan (neolithic, Warring States and 
Han) 9, 105, Li Yu (Warring States) 
37, 45, Lo-lang, Korea (Warring 
States and Han) 81, 99, Ma-chang 
(neolithic) 7, 8, 16, Pan shan (neo- 
lithic) 5-8, Pu-chao-chai (neolithic) 

6, Tai-p'ing-chang (neolithic) 35n., 
Wu-liang-tz'u (Han) 86, Yang-shao 
(neolithic) 5, 6, 8 

Six Dynasties period 121-169 

'Son of Heaven* (Tien-tzu) 34, 74, 

283, 303 
South China, early art of 49; conquest 
of by Ch'in 67; under Sun Ch'iian 
115; briefly re-unified under Chin 
117; home of national dynasties dur- 
ing Tartar occupation of North 118, 
119, 122-5, 132; acceptance of Bud- 
dhism 145; reunited with North 170, 
178, 238; separated from North 234, 
260, 261; rises against Mongols 289; 
home of the republican party 310 
Southern School of painting 232, 236 
spiral designs 5, 6, 16, 33, 37, 39, 40, 

42, 44, 46, 49, 81 
Ssu sbu, the 'Four Books' of the Con- 
fucian canon 245 
Ssu-ma family, of the Chin dynasty 107, 

Ssu-ma Ch'ien, Han historian 74, 75 
Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju, Han poet 75 
Ssu-ma Kuang, Sung historian 241, 245 
statuettes: animal, on Warring States 
bronzes 44; bronze, Han 94, 96; re- 
gional schools of 74, 105; Six Dyna- 
sties 128-131; Buddhist 156, 168; Sui 



175; Tang 196 (See also figurines, 

ivory statuettes, terra-cottas) 
steles 157, 159, 164, 166, 167, 175n., 

181, 196n., 221, 222 
stupa 183n. 
stylization, in bronzes 19, 20, 21, 22, 

23, 44, 46; in sculpture 23 
Su-tsung, T'ang emperor 200, 201 
Su T'ung-po, Sung scholar and poet 

232, 241, 246 
Subhakara-sirhha, Buddhist missionary 

Sui dynasty (Chinese) 170-5, 178, 180 
Summer Palace of Jehol 303 
Sun Ch'tian, Three Kingdoms ruler of 

Southern kingdom 115 
Sun Fo, Neo-Confudanist 240 
Sun Yat-sen 309-10, 311 
Sung dynasty (Chinese) 238-258, 260- 

273, 276-282 
Sung Po-jen, Sung painter 297 
sutras, see Buddhist scriptures 

Tagar culture 46, 47, 48 

Tai Chen, Ch'ing scholar 307 

t'ai, terraces like stupa 183 

t'ai-cbi, the 'Supreme Ultimate' 242, 

243, 251 
Tai-p'ing revolt 308 
Tai-tsung, Tang emperor 177, 178, 

179, 181, 184, 194, 195, 212, 215, 

Tan-luan, leader of White Lotus sect 

Tan-luan, founder of an Amidist school 

Tan-lun, Ch'an patriarch 147 
Tan-yao, monk who directed work on 

Yiinkang caves 150 
Tang dynasty (Chinese) 178-232; fall 

of 233-4 
T'ang Hsien-tsu, Ming dramatist 301 
T'ang Yin, Ming painter 296, 298 
tao 60, 120, 142, 204, 242, 243, 251 
Tao-ch'ao, leader of White Lotus sect 

Tao-te-cbing 59, 60, 61 
Taoism, early 59, 60, 61, 63, 110; and 

peasant revolts 77, 109, 111, 116; as 

a religion of salvation 110, 111, 120, 

121, 137; predominance of at South- 

ern court 122; and feeling for na- 
ture 123; in art 84, 126, 154; and 
poetic inspiration 121, 198; vocabu- 
lary of, used for translating Buddhist 
scriptures 142; versus Buddhism 144; 
protests against 204; favoured 204, 
257; becomes a 'theism 1 257; and 
Buddhism, see Buddhism and Ch'an. 

t'ao-t'ieb 14, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 24, 
26, 27, 30, 33, 38, 48, 52n., 86, 93, 
104, 105, 106 

Tao Yuan-ming (Tao Ch'ien), Six 
Dynasties poet 122, 123 

Tartars (Turko-Mongolians), invade 
North China 107, 117; assimilation 
of 118; and Buddhism 120, 274-5, 
284; continuity in art of 274, 285; 
portraits of 285 

te y Taoist term 204 

Te-hua white porcelains 293 

terra-cottas, Han, in relation to art of 
steppes 44; Han funerary 72, 93-4, 
95-6, 98-9; Sir Dynasties funerary 
128-131; Sui 175; Tang 209-10, 211- 
213; compared with ivories 299 

textiles 82n., 2l6n., 276-7 

Three Kingdoms (San KuoX period of 
107, 115-117 

Tibetan art 229 

Tien-ung-shan caves 165, 166, 168, 172, 
186-8, 189 

Tien-t'ai Buddhist sect 141, 148, 171, 
190-2, 243, 269; and art 162, 172, 

tigers 32, 38, 43, 44n., 268 

ting, type of bronze vase 6, 14, 15, 86, 

ting ware (pottery) 279 

Ting Yen-yung, present-day painter 313 

Ting Yu-peng, Ming painter 296 

To-pa (Tagbhatch), Tartar kings of 
Wei dynasty 117, 129, 130, 145, 150, 
151; language of 118n. 

t'o-t'ai y 'bodyless* egg-shell porcelain 

tombs, Shang 10, 94; Chou 37; Ch'in 
67; Han 72, 81, 91, 95; Liao 126; 
of Wang Chien, prince of Szechwan 
235; Ch'i-tan 259-60; Ming 290 

tou, type of bronze vase 16 

translation into Chinese of Western lit- 
erature 308 



tribkanga, see gestures 

tripods 6, 12, 15, 104 

Ts'ai Yen, poetess 114 

Ts'ai Yoian-p'ei, founder of Academy 

of Fine Arts, Peking 312 
Ts'ao Chih, Chien-an poet 113 
Ts'ao P*ei, becomes Emperor 112; as 

poet 113 
Ts'ao Ts'ao, founder of the northern 

kingdom of the Three Kingdoms 107, 

112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117; as poet 

Tso-cbuan 57, 58 
Ts'ui Shin, Later Han writer on politics 

Ts'ui Shu, Ch'ing scholar 307-8 
tsun, type of bronze vase 15, 16, 27 
tsung > jade tube, symbol of 'Earth' 26, 

35n., 43 
Tu Fu, Tang poet 200-1, 202, 208 
Tu Kuang-t'ing, writer of romances 203 
Tumshuk 217 
Tun-huang l49n., 163, 189, 199, 221-2, 

225-230, 314 
Tung Ch'i-chang, Ming painter 296 
Tung Chung-shu 71 
Tung Yuan, Sung painter 252 
Tung-Men kang-mu 245 
Tzu-cbib t'ung-chien 241 
Tz'u-chou ware (pottery) 281-2 
Tzu-hsi, Ch'ing Dowager Empress 309 

Uighur Turks 218-9, 220, 229-30, 276 
underglaze technique in pottery 293-4 
unicorn 196n. 

Vairocana (Fi-lu-che-na) 136, 137, 191- 

192; statues of 186, 192; painting of 

VaiSravana (To-wen) 192; paintings of 

223, 228; wood-cut of 297 
Vajrabodhi, Buddhist missionary 191, 

pajradbatu, the T>iamond element" 192 
VajrapSgi (Chin-kang-shou), protective 

genie 136, 166, 167, 218, 219 
Vanavasin, 268n. 
Vasubandhu, Buddhist metaphysician 

I48n., 183, 244n. 
vara-mudra, see gestures 

vijnanavada, idealist philosophical sys- 
tem of Buddhism, 183 

Vijnaptimatrata siddbi, Hsiian-tsang's 
metaphysical treatise 183, 184 

Vimalaklrti, painting of 257 

Wan-fo-hsia cave paintings 230, 260 
Wan Li, period of refinement for prints 

and porcelains 298 
Wang An-chieh, Ch'ing painter 297 
Wang An-shih, Sung statesman 63, 240^ 

241, 256, 257 
Wang Ch'i-han, Five Dynasties painter 

Wang Chien, prince of Szechwan 235 
Wang Fu, satirist 108; against Bud- 
dhism 144 
Wang Fu, Ming painter 295 
Wang Hsiian-ts e, T*ang ambassador to 

India 183n. 
Wang Hui. Ch'ing painter 306 
Wang I-ching, modern painter 312 
Wang Mang, Han usurper 63, 76, 77 
Wang Meng, Yiian painter 285 
Wang P*o, Tang poet 197 
Wang Shih-cheng, Ming poet 302 
Wang Shih-fu, Yiian dramatist 284 
Wang Shih-min, Ch'ing painter 306 
Wang Ts'an, Chien-an poet 113 
Wang Wei, Tang poet and painter 

201, 232, 248 
Wang Yang-ming, Ming philosopher 

301, 307 
Wang Yiian-ch'i, Ch'ing painter 306 
Warring States (Chan-kuo), period of 

warriors and 'knights' 192, 211, 215, 

226, 227, 228, 235, 285, 287 
weapons, bronze 24, 25, 29, 30; jade 

26, 43 
Wei, dynasty founded by Ts'ao Ts'ao 

Wei, dynasty founded by the TVpa 

117, 129, 130, 131, 149-151, 159, 

160, 163-4, 169 
Wei Yang, see Kung-sun Yang 
Wei-ch'ih Po-chih-na and Wei-ch'ih 

I-seng, Khotan painters 223 
Wen Cheng-ming, Ming painter and 

poet 296 
Wen Hsuan, anthology of literature 125 



Wen-kung, Pei-ch'i king 169-170 
Wen Po-jen, Ming painter 296 
White Lotus Buddhist sect (Pai-lien 

tsung 143, 163 
White Lotus secret society (Pai-lien 

chiao) 271-3, 289 
wine and poetry 121, 122, 123, 198, 

winged figures 84, 88, 220, 224 (See 

also apsaras.) 
winged horses 88, 97, 195-6, 206 
winged lions 126, 127 
wood-cuts 297 
writing, Chinese 14 
Wu Chen, Yuan painter 285 
Wu Ch'eng-en, supposed author of 

Hsi-yu-chi 302 
Wu Tao-tzu, Tang painter 231-2 
wu'ts'ai, 'five colour' porcelain 294, 304 
Wu Tse-t'ien, Tang empress 178, 185, 

186, 194, 197 
Wu Tso-jen (Ou Sogene), present-day 

painter 313, 314 
Wu-tsung, Tang emperor 204 
Wu Wei, Ming painter 296 
wu-wei, Taoist term used by early tran- 
slators for nirvana 142 

Yang-ti, Sui emperor 170, 171, 172 
Yeh Lin-chih, present-day potter 314 
Yen Chih-t'ui, Confucian moralist 171 
Yen Fu, translator into Chinese of West- 
ern literature 308 
Yen-hui, Yuan painter 284-5 
Yen Li-pen, Tang painter 231 
Yen-ts'ung, Buddhist pilgrim 184 
yin and yang 53, 55, 60 
ying-ck'ing ware (pottery) 280 
yogacara, Buddhist philosophical system 

yu, type of bronze vase 15, 16, 18, 22, 

27, 28 
yu, Chinese term for jade 25 
Yuan dynasty (Mongol) 283-8 
Yuan Chen, Tang poet 202 
Yuan Chi, Six Dynasties poet 122 
Yuan skih, Yuan dynastic history 284 
Yuan Shih-k'ai 310 
Yiieh ware (proto-ceiadon) 127, 214, 

237-8, 280 
Yiin-kang 149, 150, 153, 157, 158, 160, 

161, 163, 222 
yiin wen motif on bronzes 16, 28 
Yung Lo, Ming emperor 275, 289-90, 

Yang Chien, founder of the Sui dynasty 

Yang Chiung, Tang poet 197 
Yang Kuei-fei, favourite of Hsuan- 

tsung 198, 200, 203, 208, 210, 212, 


2Sao Wu-ki, present-day painter 314 
Zen 146 (See Ch'an Buddhism) 
Zen gardens 250 

zoomorphic designs, see animal repre-